Council to take more control over transport

Picture Martin Bostock'Leader of Blackpool Council, Simon Blackburn, with the OFSTED report on the council's arrangement for the protection of children.

Picture Martin Bostock'Leader of Blackpool Council, Simon Blackburn, with the OFSTED report on the council's arrangement for the protection of children.

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TOWN hall chiefs want more of a say on bus routes across Blackpool.

Blackpool Council wholly owns Blackpool Transport but currently leaves key decisions to the company’s own bosses.

Now council leader Coun Simon Blackburn wants the council to “exert more control’ over the bus and tram company in order to ensure services are best meeting the needs of residents.

He said: “Recent legal advice has confirmed my view the council can, while fully complying with the 1985 Transport Act, exert considerably more control over the actions of Blackpool Transport Services (BTS).

“Given the desperate need for economic growth, and the 
potential transfer of large numbers of jobs away from Norcross to Peel Park and Warbreck Hill, now is a good time to examine the extent to which our routes and fares are appropriate for the working people of the town.

“Young people have also voiced their concerns about aspects of BTS policy – not least the cost of transport to and from the college, and the withdrawal of child fares after 9pm.

“We shall be working with BTS to reconstitute the board of directors, and ensure BTS in future is more reflective of the council’s ambitions.”

Around 2,000 workers are set to transfer to Peel Park as part of changes in the civil service, while fears have also been raised recently about how well Bispham Technology Park is served by public transport.

This week has seen a number of service changes including to routes 15 and 16, while route one has been curtailed in the early mornings as the route is now covered by the tram service.

Bob Mason, director of delivery at Blackpool Transport, said: “We are involved in a working group along with the council and members of the youth parliament and youth council in looking at travel to and from colleges.

“Under 16s can travel after 9pm at the discounted rate if they have purchased either a day saver ticket or weekly saver ticket.

“Furthermore, we obviously look at travel patterns and areas of employment as we want customers to travel with us to and from work. We have had some initial discussions with the council in relation to Peel Park and these will be on-going as things develop.”

Passenger representatives have backed the council taking more control of bus services.

Stephen Brookes, chairman of the Blackpool Passenger Focus Panel, said: “Blackpool Council is the only shareholder of Blackpool Transport so it should be working more closely with the company to get things right.

“There are issues we are looking at such as the bus stops on Abingdon Street which are too close together, so when lots of people are waiting, pedestrians with mobility problems or who are pushing prams have to step into the road to get past which is dangerous.

“These are the kind of things the council needs to be looking at with BTS.”