A message to our key contact representatives - 4th April 2022Dear All,
I am afraid that there is no easy way to break this news. Wiltshire has been awarded no Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding whatsoever from the Government - see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cheaper-and-better-buses-in-7-billion-package-to-level-up-transport-outside-london
The Department for Transport explain their decision as follows:
|"The successful areas have been chosen because of their ambition to repeat the success achieved in London – which drove up bus usage and made the bus a natural choice for everyone, not just those without cars.|
As the government stated in last year’s national bus strategy, Bus Back Better, areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded."
I would like to very strongly express the opposite view - As you all saw as the draft turned into the finished article, Wiltshire put forward a hugely ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan, made all the more so by the fantastic input that you all helped to put into it. To suggest otherwise is a massive insult on the part of the Department for Transport towards the efforts of all concerned, and I would like to thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done to support those efforts, and to support Option 24/7 in general. It really is appreciated more than you will know. I also want to spare a thought for our Wiltshire Council officers and local bus operators who worked extremely hard on this, and who I am sure will be gutted as well.
Some of you will I am sure wryly note the similarities between the successful local authorities and the places known in political circles as "Red Wall" and "Yellow Wall' areas...For my part though, I want to genuinely and warmly congratulate our many friends and allies in such areas, particularly those in Somerset who we have worked very closely with in recent months, and whose efforts have also been very positive and forward-thinking.
The reality though is that we have to come to terms with the fact that Wiltshire has not been awarded any BSIP funding. As a result, I have raised your hopes to a level that will now - in the short-term at least - be impossible to fully deliver. I would like to personally apologise to all of you for that. My only defence really was that I have experience of delivering a version of Bus Back Better - more Public Transport Back Better really - in Brittany as part of a genuinely properly funded and passenger-focused system, and I desperately wanted that for all of us in our wonderful county. I hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for that.
Option 24/7 must and will carry on though, as there is still very much all to play for. We still have the first round list of 34 bus service improvements that are not dependent on BSIP funding, and the Pewsey Vale Rural Mobility Fund package to look forward to as well. We will continue to press for all of that to be delivered in full. Looking further forward, we will explore ways that existing resources can be more effectively utilised to deliver lasting bus service improvements, and it may also be an opportunity to get together with our fellow BSIP-snubbed neighbouring local authorities of Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Dorset and Swindon to see what potential there is to pool resources, and look at joint ventures, in order to achieve some of the common aims of our BSIPs as well. We will also continue to help develop innovative proposals for decarbonised bus services in Wiltshire.
I would like to end by saying what a great pleasure it has been to get to know and work with you all over the past few months, and we would be honoured if you felt able to continue in your roles and help us to still shape a positive bus future for Wiltshire. We are meeting Wiltshire Council this coming Thursday for our monthly BSIP meeting, and will follow up via email with you all with further details on the way forward soon afterwards.
In the meantime, if you want to discuss anything related to this, please do feel free to email me.
Who has BSIP / South West? - Indicative BSIP funding allocations
Blackburn with Darwen and Lancashire: £34.2m
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: £8.9m
Brighton and Hove: £27.9m
Central Bedfordshire: £3.7m
City of York: £17.4m
Cornwall (including Isles of Scilly): £13.3m
Derby City: £7m
East Sussex: £41.4m
Greater Manchester: £94.8m
Liverpool City Region: £12.3m
North East and North of Tyne: £163.5m
North East Lincolnshire: £4.7m
Nottingham City: £11.4m
West Berkshire: £2.6m
West Midlands: £87.9m
West of England and North Somerset: £105.5m
West Sussex: £17.4m
West Yorkshire: £70m