Thursday's Letters: Transport operators are staring at a 'quintuple whammy'

YOUR front page story (Yorkshire Post, December 13) about the shockingly insensitive approach of North Yorkshire County Council to making the necessary budget savings for subsidised bus services omits to mention that bus operators are in fact faced with a "quintuple whammy", not only in North Yorkshire but in all of England outside London.

First, there is the cut in contract revenue as councils and integrated transport authorities make cuts of 20 per cent or more in their transport budgets.

Second, there is an inevitable consequent loss of income on other "commercial" services as many of the trips on the subsidised services to be cut are balanced by a return trip earlier or later in the day. If there is no return bus available, the likelihood is that both outward and return journeys will either be made by car or not at all.

Third, there is the 20 per cent or more cut in funds from the Department of Communities and Local Government to councils to fund the national concessionary "free" travel scheme. This money is also swallowed up into councils' general treasury coffers so we can expect further squeezes from financial officers trying to fund other council services.

Fourth, there is the unrelated change to the reimbursement rules for this scheme promulgated by the Department for Transport which has yet to be finalised but which provoked protest from many bus operators and councils when it was realised the new rules appeared to favour frequent urban services leaving operators out of pocket for the sort of occasional, longer distance services prevalent in most of North Yorkshire.

Fifth, there is a 20 per cent cut to the bus service operators grant paid as a rebate of fuel duty. The Department for Transport has also revised the rules for this grant to favour operators who invest in greener buses and smart technology.

It is therefore doubly disappointing that, in bowing to the inevitability of a substantial cut in transport support, Coun David Jeffels, as chairman of the North Yorkshire transport scrutiny committee, has failed to recognise the complexity of the situation described above and claims that the council "had been anxious to ensure that daytime services were preserved because they were vital to ensure people could go to work, shopping and to hospitals".

Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as that and I'm afraid that Coun Jeffels is likely to find that the precarious financial position of many bus services in North Yorkshire will lead to further proposed cuts as operators struggle to make ends meet.

From: JD Carr, Miller Hill, Denby Dale, Huddersfield.

From: Tim Mickleburgh, Littlefield Lane, Grimsby.

I DON'T agree with North Yorkshire County Council reducing its bus subsidy. But why headline the front page story "Bus service cuts will be devastating for tourism"?

Yes, tourism is important in being a job provider. Surely though, what matters more are the poorer people who live in the country who depend on public transport to get around? Let's not also forget that Sunday services are vital these days when so many have to work on such a day.

No right to a free university education

Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.

The tuition fees controversy continues to rage. I realise it must have been a shock for students to see a considerable hike in what they (or their parents) have to pay.

To look at the matter in isolation, however, I ask myself why should youngsters get a free university education? Even OU entrants can be liable to charges. It is true that healthcare is free but that is literally a matter of life and death and, in any case, the old have to forfeit the very roof over their heads if they survive long enough.

For the rest, we have to foot the bill for food, clothes, cars, holidays and every other service which makes life worth living. What therefore is so special about education and why should it be so sacrosanct? The increased fees proposed still represent a very good investment which will be recouped by the graduate over and over again in the fullness of time.

I am afraid the politicians have, not for the first time, raised expectations and used our once peerless education system for their own ends.

I am all in favour of giving a leg up to talented students from poorer backgrounds but the brutal truth is that those suited to a university education are nowhere near 50 per cent, which is the stated aim. I cite in evidence those taking part in the recent riots and I rest my case.

From: Alec Denton, Oxford Avenue, Guiseley.

THE predictably appalling behaviour of the hooligan element in last Thursday's student riots at least serves to focus the mind.

Students do not have a right to a full-time university education. It is a privilege and those demonstrators who committed criminal offences should forfeit that privilege. The demonstrations cost the law-abiding majority in this country a lot of money and brought both serious students and the country into disrepute. We do not owe the demonstrators anything, they owe us.

The country simply cannot afford for 50 per cent of its young people to receive free university education and therefore, as always, there have to be fees and the hated means test is the best way of helping the poorest.

Regardless of the help available, the number of students from deprived backgrounds going to university will not increase until the quality and appreciation of school education is raised, ideally by moving away from "factory education" into smaller establishments with a higher staff/pupil ratio. Quantity never did equate to quality.

From: Len Fincham, Warrels Road, Bramley, Leeds.

ONE can only be disgusted by the rampaging mob of so-called students defaming memorials and major national buildings in London during their 'protest' against rising student fees. I fully understand their anger but not the rage of children who have just had their toys taken away, for that is how they behaved, not as adults but nasty little boys and girls.

Sure, it is a problem for youngsters and parents although many will not pay much or anything later in life if they ever get a job, many won't. It seems as if this was more of political anger against the Liberal Democrats who changed their minds when necessary for the bill to pass through Parliament. The evidence is graffiti, billboards and TV news proclaiming hate against these particular MPs.

This resulting uncontrolled rampage in London will have the reverse effect on a following election, the public will refrain from voting Liberal Democrat. If, in the near future, a similar event takes place and the Government fails, the Lib Dems will have very few seats for decades to come.

From: D Birch, Smithy Lane, Cookridge, Leeds.

ALL the pundits are saying that what happened on December 9, both in Parliament and outside over student loans, will be the definite downfall of the Lib Dems in the future.

For my money it should be the downfall of the Conservative Party, with its dogma of cutting everything in sight now, so that in two to three years they will be able to claim that they did what was necessary to save Britain from bankruptcy and put the Great back into Britain.

What they really did was to prove a point that they and the Lib Dem Coalition are "in power", despite what was happening outside and has been going on for the last few weeks of not only the demonstrations, but the adverse comments from the citizens of the UK too that they should not be pushing these cuts through, and that they should think it through again more thoroughly.

They are putting the full burden of their education costs on to the students via their fees because of the fuller cuts they are making to the universities and making the claim that it is for the benefit of the taxpayer. This is wrong!

From: Dr S Moxon, Water End, York.

WE are told that the clean-up of London after the acts of vandalism during the student protest will cost the taxpayer 100,000. I would suggest that the taxpayer should not pick up this account.

The bill for repairing the damage and of cleaning the streets should be presented to the officers of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Perhaps the anti-capitalist and anarchist groups, together with the trade unionists, who used the students for purposes other than protestation about fees, may consider themselves obliged to contribute to this cost.

As also the yobbish professors (a role they surely demean) who have not only publicly condoned but incited criminal behaviour, expressing "pride" in what happened during the protest and adding that further demonstrations of this nature would "bring the Government down".

Their taxpayer-funded, over-generous salaries could be paid directly to NUS officers until the account is settled. In any other profession, workers behaving in this manner would be suspended.

Feeling of intimidation around the bus stations

From: Michael Farmer, Oldfield Road, Honley, Holmfirth.

I feel that I am compelled to write to you in order to attempt to highlight what I consider has become the extremely oppressive atmosphere which is now prevalent within and around the bus stations throughout West Yorkshire managed by Metro.

One is at every move observed by at least half a dozen "security" cameras – monitored by Metro and its staff – allegedly for the safety of its "customers" but much more likely to be for the protection of their own staff from the consequences of justified complaints from members of the public and others.

Every bus station bristles with these intrusive devices both inside and outside the premises – how many are aware just how far beyond Metro's claimed bounds these observe? The price of freedom is eternal vigilance not constant surveillance.

Metro "security" staff hover in every bus station like birds of prey awaiting the opportunity to confront their chosen victim with claims of their breach of the draconian rules and regulations now applied – one is almost afraid to sneeze or cough in a Metro bus station for fear of being accused of either harassment or assault against the staff.

Many of the bus stations – Huddersfield is a prime example –- are now "protected" by more extensive defences than those of the much vaunted, but ultimately breached, Atlantic Wall of 70 years ago. Is any of this grossly expensive hardware necessary?

One must always bear in mind that Metro, although funded by not inconsiderable largesse from the public purse is to a very great degree unaccountable to its paymasters.

Come on Mr Cameron, rise to the challenge, you said that your administration would sweep away all expensive and overbearing quangos.

The 'nasty party' never went away

From: Terry Palmer, South Lea Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

I TOLD you so ! The Tory "nasty party" are still here, they've never ever gone away in my lifetime.

This time a senior Tory, local government chief, David Shakespeare, mocks people here in the North by suggesting when workers up here are sacked by the coalition cuts they should then: "Go replace the Romanians working in cherry orchards".

This includes police, social workers and all frontline town hall staff who are being dumped particularly here in northern areas, according to this half-baked Buckinghamshire councillor Shakespeare.

He should be dumped forthwith by Tory leader David Cameron and be sentenced to work in some cherry orchard.

Of course, I suspect that the word "work" would have to be explained first to Mr Shakespeare.

Time for an inquiry into the EU

From: KE Nichols, Drury Close, Pannal, Harrogate.

I WILL not be alone, appalled that auditors had been unable to sign off the accounts of the European Union for 16 consecutive years due to corruption and fraud.

In light of the enormous amount of money passing from the UK to the EU black holes, it must be time for an independent investigation to assess, evaluate and control the huge amount of waste and magnanimous commitments to salaries, expenses and pensions.

What a gravy train – and no obvious constraints, despite the need to make difficult decisions in these troubled times.