Driven by concerns about the loss of valuable bus routes serving Windsorians and, the roll out of Universal Credit, Cllr. Da Costa asks questions in Council on “lost bus services and Universal Credit”
Wisdom Da Costa: Question on Loss of First Bus Services
There are reports on social media and from Slough Council, that First Buses are discontinuing the routes 702, 2, 5, 10/11, 15 and reducing availability on routes 1, 7 & 4. Can the Lead Member shed any light on this and whether the no 2 will be continuing?
Cllr. Phil Bicknell’s Response @ 2:10:00
“First Group have deregistered a number of services which affect residents within the Royal Borough. Details of this were not shared by First in advance of this and officers had subsequently met with the managing director at First Bus in Hampshire Dorset and Berkshire and expressed disappointment about the manner in which this was handled and communicated. And, to understand the rationale about the decision, which is apparently entirely commercially driven.
The routes impacted by this decision are summarized as follows;
- Service 2 – Dedworth, Windsor, Slough
- Service 10/11 – Slough, Datchet, Sunnymedes, Wraysbury & Heathrow
- Service – 15 Slough and Eton Wich (Wick?)
- In addition Service 702, that’s the Greenline service from Bracknell to London Victoria via Ascot & Windsor, was de-registered by First Group has been taken on by Reading Buses which will ensure similar levels of service are maintained without a break in service.
And our objective is very clearly to ensure that all the communities that are currently serviced by these routes countinue to be served from 21 January 2018 when the First Group Services will cease. However there may be alterations to routes and timetables.
We have engaged with different operators to secure proposals to continue to operating services in these areas and are working very closely with Slough Borough Council, Heathrow Airports Ltd and Surrey CC to agree a new network.
It is also important to note, that this piece of work will be data led and services will reflect levels of need and demand.
In parallel, we are exploring demand responsive services which may better meet needs and have engaged with Ariva in respect of their Uber style bus service Arriva Cliff which has been launched in Kent may offer real benefits for residents and businesses of the borough.
Work on the new proposals are well advanced but not concluded however, it is my intention to ensure continuity of services in the affected areas when the existing operators services cease.”
Wisdom Da Costa: Supplementary question on loss of bus services
- My post bag is full of comments from concerned residents
- I’m sure you agree that mobility is key to prosperity and economic success.
- I hope the proposals will include transport solutions, including buses, to reduce pollution, improve traffic flow, support the mobility of the vulnerable to accessing a distributed health care services, or to enliven our town centres and borough, and provide for the increasing number of high density developments where a car per adult is just not possible
- When will this work be available for us to look at?
Cllr. Phil Bicknell’s Supplementary response
I think the question is, when will we have the answer to First Buses very rude stoppage in services?
And the answer to that is I am not quite sure, but it will be shortly, it will be before Christmas and we will be making every effort to continue with the services so residents don’t suffer in any way.
- “this piece of work will be data led and services will reflect levels of need and demand” ← chance for residents to email Council
- Solution should be available before Christmas ← unfulfilled promise
- “we will be making every effort to continue with the services so residents don’t suffer in any way” ← very challenging commitment
Wisdom Da Costa: Question on RBWM preparations for the roll out of Universal Credit
Universal Credit (UC) has already caused great suffering to citizens young and old in the UK and will affect our residents from May 2018.
What preparations are being made by RBWM to offer financial help, coaching, education and outreach?
Can you assure residents that none of our residents will fall into the poverty trap because of Universal Credit’s roll out?
Cllr. Samantha Rayner’s response 2:06:00
“Thank you Cllr Da Costa. Yes, I was very happy to take this question at late notice because I do believe, like you, that it is a very important issue for our local residents, especially because of all of the news coverage (inaudible) And also this gives me the opportunity to reassure the residents who will be affected by the roll out of the Universal Credit, which is now set for the Royal Borough to be in May 2018.
And since the decision has been made, we have been working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to make sure that this transition is protecting our most vulnerable residents.
The DWP have advised us previously that there could be 665 new Universal Credit Claims in the year 2018/19 of which, 40 of these will need assisted digital training and, 50 will need personal budgeting support, which actually the Royal Borough will be providing through training through Job staff so this will happen closer to May 2018.
We’ve also started and exercise to map our existing service provision both within the council and via our external partners, in fact I was meeting with them today to discuss how they can assist the residents to more debt assistance, and also we have the charity (inaudible) Lots of Universal Credit training for various charities and various organisations around the Royal Borough and we will support for them through that.
Information will be provided 24 hours, 7 days a week via the Royal Borough website…(inaudible)…digital services that we’ve got updated. And also within our libraries and members will be invited to an open briefing early in the New Year.
There will be training sessions for staff answering the phone calls, so they can help the residents when they phone up asking questions.
The government has recently announced ways to help residents with this transition to Universal Credit, and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead are fully supportive of all this help that they are offering.
The personal budgeting assistance digital service, alongside the Housing Benefit will be in Windsor, and Maidenhead, and Ascot Libraries, and also we will have volunteers in all our Community Libraries who will be up to date with all these changes. So hopefully this will help all our residents with this transition.”
Wisdom Da Costa – Supplementary question
- When will the details of the programme will be published and available for overview and scrutiny?
- And hopefully there will be a mobile service going out to people to help those
- And, can you assure our residents that the Council will make sufficient funds available and allow officers sufficient flexibility to enable immediate payments for this and also for Council Tax Support (CTS)?
Cllr. Samantha Rayner’s Supplementary response
Yes, thank you Cllr Da Costa. Yes, as I had said, actually we will be taking the information out to our residents through our community libraries and through our pubs?! and, we will start the training early next year when we have more information and will be invited and invited to our training sessions. If there is any other way I can help, I more than happy to help.
- Work in progress
- Working with unnamed partners
- No details provided yet
- No date yet set for proposal
- No O&S comment promised
- No mobile outreach service
- Information via website and libraries
- Also mention of pubs?
- Our staff (librarians) will be trained to take calls
- No assurance sufficient funds will be available
- No assurance that officers will be employed to make immediate payments for UC or CT
- No assurance that residents will NOT fall into the poverty trap because of Universal Credit’s roll out
Let’s keep working together to put people first; justice and democracy for all.
WWRA Councillor, Wisdom Da Costa, Clewer North, Windsor
This post is part of Cllr Wisdom Da Costa’s regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as he promised in his election leaflet
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).