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Should bus companies that leave pupils in the lurch lose their franchise?
I find the news that Arriva are cancelling bus services for schoolchildren [August 10] deeply worrying, not least when they say they are a commercial company and, like any other business, they have to make money to ‘operate profitably’.
They are not like any other commercial company. Or at least they shouldn’t be in certain special circumstances – such as provision for getting kids to school. What could be more important than ensuring the next generation can get an education?
The fact is that Arriva are targeting the vulnerable in our society. These students are entitled to claim a Young Person’s Travel Pass from Kent County Council, which means they are paying a reduced fare every day, twice a day. And that’s what affects Arriva’s profits. That’s what they don’t like.
What will it be next? We already have plenty of rural bus services being axed which provide a lifeline for elderly people who don’t happen to live in towns. Are they supposed to just rot in their houses rather than being able to get out and about and enjoy the freedom that retirement brings?
I suppose you could say that most people have cars these days so there isn’t such a need for bus services. But one part of the population definitely doesn’t have cars, and that’s schoolkids.
Their parents may well be able to ferry them around, and they almost certainly do at weekends. But during the week, especially if they work in London like so many commuters in our towns do, they could do with a little help from what used to be called ‘public transport’.
Let’s take away the franchises from companies like these when they come up for tender, unless they can guarantee that they are not all about the bottom line, but are a proper community resource.
EU: No more French goodies
Jean-Claude Juncker keeps a little black book, ‘Maurice’, in which he keeps the names of those people who have offended him. Given his intemperate rhetoric and the recent actions, or inaction, of the French at Dover, I don’t need a little book. It’s much simpler: Out go French wines; no more French cheeses; holidays in France? No, they’re scrapped, too. I think the balance sheet favours the Brits.
John Ward Moorhouse
Devolution: Who will have the final say?
I welcome the news [August 10] that powers will be devolved from the county council to local districts, especially when they concern vital investment in infrastructure – if it is executed well.
However, I do have concerns about the so-called ‘sub regions’. Who will run them? Are they merely going to be collaborations between neighbouring districts, or will there be someone at the top who each council leader will answer to?
I fear that without some form of formal decision-making body, these sub regions will not function properly as each district argues over who should get what share of the available resources.
At least at county level it is more impartial.
But why would Sevenoaks, say, willingly forgo potential funding for a project because neighbouring Tonbridge believes it is in more need of the money for projects of its own?And how will the division of council tax work? Will it be retained locally? Will a portion flow to the ‘sub regions’ or will the majority still go to Kent County Council and then be redistributed back down again?
Hopefully over the coming months there will be further clarification on the issue, for it has promise but lacks detail.
Pembury: Fault lies with government policies
The financial problems experienced by Pembury hospital [July 27], and the NHS in general, are not the fault of medical professionals but are the result of the policies implemented by governments over many years.
It was the programme of PFI schemes, introduced by the Labour Government in order to keep the costs off the national balance sheet, that saddled hospitals with ongoing debts which will take decades to pay off, and which merely enrich private companies.
In addition, the excessive number of overpaid bureaucrats in the NHS is a drain on limited resources. These people are merely pen-pushers who contribute nothing to clinical care and divert funds from the front line to unnecessary administration.
We see grossly overpaid, and fundamentally unqualified executives running bodies which were once largely managed by those who knew what they were doing, and had a sense of public responsibility.
To these modern managers the only thing that matters is their inflated salaries and performance-related bonuses.
Referendum: Send councillor on secondment
Would a certain smug councillor who appeared in the letters section of the August 10 Times of Tunbridge Wells consider going on secondment to other councils? This would be to discover whether the vote to leave the EU has magically increased investment in northern constituencies that the councillor relied on to gain the result they wanted from the referendum, when the majority of Tunbridge Wells residents voted to remain?
Disgusted (with a councillor) of Tunbridge Wells
Gatwick: Thanks to all the campaigners
I have followed with interest the ongoing stories in your newspaper about the problems with low-flying aircraft travelling into and out of Gatwick airport. As I understand it, much of the problem has been to do with narrowing the flight paths, meaning more planes flying over fewer people.
Happily it appears these flight paths might now be broadened to spread the pain more evenly, which appears a fair outcome.
The purpose of this letter, though, is not to climb on the aircraft noise bandwagon, but to thank those who have been aboard it since day one.
Numerous groups, I understand, have been involved in the campaign with scores of volunteers working for the good of the local community.
Without their hard work it is probably fair to say nothing would have been changed.
So to all of you that have given up your time and energy to fight the Gatwick cause, we owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you.
Pantiles: Not another charity shop?
What a shame the town has missed out on a ‘grown-up’ night spot [August 3] apparently because the owners of the Lower Pantiles, the Nevill Estate, couldn’t wait until the spring.
Let’s just hope the new client they have lined up to take over the old Heritage Centre is something equally worthy and needed, and won’t drop out just as the Curzon cinema owners did. At least we know the site is too big for another charity shop!