Why are elderly people being overlooked when it comes to South Yorkshire transport pledges? - Yorkshire Post Letters

Oliver Coppard is the Mayor of South Yorkshire. PIC: Gerard BinksOliver Coppard is the Mayor of South Yorkshire. PIC: Gerard Binks
Oliver Coppard is the Mayor of South Yorkshire. PIC: Gerard Binks
Mike Smith, Barnsley.

Mayor Coppard pledged in his manifesto that, “transparency, accountability, equality and accessibility will characterise everything I do as South Yorkshire Mayor”.

Why then was the Transport Committee meeting of 15/12/22 held behind closed doors with the public and press excluded and the only questions (still no answers) allowed had to be submitted up to seven days before?

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And why was the brief changed from what was expected to be an evidence based discussion on a Gold Card type scheme with a fixed fee similar to that run by Mayor Burnham in Greater Manchester?

Instead the Transport Committee was presented with a wholly inaccurate model of funding which no region in the country applies.

It was one of “lost revenue” currently used to cover the poorly taken up half fare scheme which prior to the pandemic cost SYPTE at most £170,000 a year.

The report then claimed that with a fully restored concession and the take up by the 230,000 elderly the costs could be up to £48m.

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Nowhere in this country does such a ludicrous scheme exist. The Mayor totally ignored the fact that Greater Manchester pays a flat fee of £1.2m with a £10 charge for trains and trams not to reimburse Northern Rail but to fund Mayor Burnham’s bus franchising court costs.

All this was known by the Mayor who has repeatedly been informed of the fixed fee so leaving the impression that this was a deliberate act designed to mislead the committee.

The fact that the committee have kicked it down the road for six months (when no doubt more mealy mouthed excuses will appear) tarnishes them with the same sense of malfeasance in office the Mayor appears to have exhibited.

As Councillor Robert Frost was kind enough to inform me of the committee’s decision, I’ve asked him, as BMBC cabinet member for transport, to arrange with the chair to reconvene the Transport Committee as soon as possible in January 2023 as six months is far too long, given so many elderly and disabled urgently require support with a cost of living crisis in a region of severe deprivation and pensioner poverty. And to which the public and press are invited to attend and contribute.

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Between now and then our £54 an hour Mayor must make it a priority to contact the Mayors of London, West Midlands, Liverpool and Greater Manchester to confirm what he already knows in order to present an accurate, feasible and viable, fiscally neutral, train concession. A concession which, as ex Mayor and MP Dan Jarvis remarked, should never have been removed in the first place.

One final puzzle for the Mayor and Committee has to be why a couple of councillors continue to deny the train concession for 300,000 people? Why are we held in such contempt by those elected to represent them?

When did the elderly become the enemy and drain on the economy after lifetimes of work and sacrifice?

Many elderly see little difference between the treatment the nurses are currently getting and us - clapped and applauded when it suits but then when meaningful action is required we don’t get justice but another kick in the teeth.