Chester MP has written to the Department for Transport slamming ministers for misleading comments about funding for bus services in Cheshire West and Chester.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Chris asked Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Transport, about a recent funding application from Cheshire West and Chester for the government’s Build Bus Better scheme. The Government’s national strategy for improving bus services outside London.
“With a bunch of parents in Saughall in my constituency, we have been trying to put together a package for school bus transport that would save hundreds of car journeys a week. It is predicated on a successful Bus Back Better bid, but the word from the Treasury is that that money will be halved. Will we get the full amount that Cheshire West and Chester Council bid for?”
To which the Minister responded:
“That decision is yet to be taken, but in terms of the hon. Gentleman’s council and the money it is missing out on, it is disappointing to learn that in Chester the green bus technology fund, the low emission fund, the ultra-low emission fund, the all-electric bus city fund and all the zero-emission bus regional area funds have not been taken advantage of by his council. I really would encourage him to work with his council to make the most of the generous offers provided by the Department.”
The Minster’s response has received a backlash from councillors, council chiefs and Chris Matheson himself, as they believe these comments to be false and misleading.
This week, Chris Matheson has written to Trudy Harrison calling her to put the record straight. His calls come in a long line of recent dissatisfaction with the conduct and comments of government ministers in the House of Commons.
Commenting on the incident Chris said:
“I was deeply disappointed that the Minister chose to read out a pre-prepared, false attack on Cheshire West and Chester Council instead of providing a proper and constructive response to my question.
The Minister’s claims are simply not correct. Cheshire West and Chester Council has always been keen to pursue low and ultra-low emission vehicles. They have done so by applying to a number of schemes throughout the years, only to be rejected by the government or been unable to apply due to the lack of appetite from the private operators, who as a precondition from the Department for Transport, need to commit to commercial match funding.
To say that the council has not been taking advantage of the schemes on offer is simply incorrect and out of line. This is why I have recently written to the Minister, asking her to put the record straight and make good on their promises, and give communities like Chester the support they need. People don’t want misleading political answers, They want decent bus services.”