Over the past few weeks one of the main subjects in my inbox and one of the main issues that residents have contacted me about is the No 16 bus route. This has been the subject of various local Blog post,questions at full council and various leaflets.
Now just to start I want to confirm that the service 16 will continue and will do so with both its current frequency and on its present route. This is what we have been saying from the start. When I was at the Stoke Park Residents Association meeting my colleague and the Transport portfolio holder Cllr Smart explained that this would be the end goal but the process of de-registration had to be followed.
Now that the dust is starting to settle I think we can reflect on the past few weeks. There has been a lot of he said she said accusations flying around and at times the debate has in my opinion became unseemly. My opposite number in Stoke Park Tory Councilor Cenci has been very vocal on subject and I understand her passion to try and help her residents. I’m also sure that it was not her intention to cause unnecessary distress but that is what happened. in a rush to try and score political points a leaflet was put out accusing us of axing the service this was not the case and we had repeatedly said that the service would be safe. As the process of de-registration went on rumors circulated as to what would be happening it was frustrating that as a legal process was ongoing we were limited as to what we could say but we were reassured along the way that the service would be safe.
So what saved the No 16 well nothing it was always safe, it was not a petition (which has not been handed in as yet) or any amount of leaflets. What ensured that the service could continue was financial support that was set aside for precisely that purpose.
What can we learn from this ? I have spent the last few weeks speaking to residents about the bus saga and a large number are disappointed with how it was turned into a political football,I’m sure that as more facts become apparent that perhaps Cllr Cenci would with hindsight of liked to have approached this differently. I myself would of liked communication to have been better with continuity of message from everyone involved as it became apparent that some Bus drivers were not aware of what was going on.
I’ve been receiving congratulation E-mails and well done messages from residents in the street saying well done for saving the No 16 and I’m having to modestly tell them I myself did not save them but am part of an administration that put measures in place to support the service so it can still serve the residents that need it.