This week we announced the outcome of a review into supported bus services. Our priority has been to protect and improve services, where possible, whilst ensuring money we put in to local services is being used to the best possible effect.
Unlike a lot of local authorities, we will continue to spend over a £1million a year to support local bus services in rural and urban areas. However, we also have a duty to ensure that we use taxpayers’ money to the best possible effect, and where a service is running almost empty we clearly cannot justify asking taxpayers to subsidise a service that may, in many cases, cost more than the equivalent taxi journey.
I’ve led a number of consultation events over the past week, talking and listening to local residents about the creation of a new West of England Mayoral Combined Authority and the proposed devolution deal. The turnout has been good and those that have come along have been very engaged, asking lots of questions and putting forward their views. By unlocking £1 billion of additional funding over the next 30 years, this deal will give us more freedom to plan for the future, invest in much-needed new infrastructure, and deliver the new homes and jobs our area will need. This proposed deal will affect everyone so it’s important that we get as many views as possible – please make sure you have your say. More events will follow next week and you can also put forward your views online before the consultation closes on Monday 15 August.
On Tuesday I went along to the BBC Radio Bristol studios to take part in a live phone-in on the John Darvall show. Local residents called in to ask about all sorts of issues and it was a good chance to hear different views about what’s happening in our area.
On the radio show, we also talked about Hannah Francis, who died earlier this week. Hannah was the most exceptional 18-year-old I have had the honour of meeting. She turned the despair of a terminal bone cancer diagnosis into a spirited and positive determination to enjoy every single day she had left, and with the help a small stuffed toy called Willberry Wonder Pony she began fundraising and created a charity to raise awareness of this cruel disease. This kind, generous, selfless young girl was never without a smile, was always grateful for each day she was here, and has captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide as they watched and supported her in the toughest battle of all. Her short life is over, but her legacy has only just begun.