Thursday, February 08, 2007

Elizabeth Howlett AM votes to abolish free bus travel scheme for 11,225 Merton children

It seems that the London Assembly member for Merton and Wandsworth has just voted to support abolishing free travel for Merton school children in their alternative budget proposals.

This was the same Elizabeth Howlett who was last year described last year by the Evening Standard 'as the least effective London Assembly member'.

Elizabeth Howlett AM votes to abolish free bus travel scheme for 11,225 Merton children

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today criticised Assembly Member Elizabeth Howlett, for voting to abolish free bus and tram travel for all under-18s in full-time education.

Assembly Member, Elizabeth Howlett, moved the plan at the London Assembly meeting discussing the mayor's draft budget this week. In place of the bus travel scheme, Ms Bray proposed an impractical 'pilot' school bus scheme, which in addition to being impossible to implement in London, would deprive families of the advantages of the fares concession at weekends and bank holidays.

Elizabeth Howlett was one of those who backed the alternative budget to cut the free bus travel scheme for children.
The planned 'pilot scheme', backed by Elizabeth Howlett at the Assembly meeting, would operate in just six boroughs as opposed to the existing free travel concession across the whole of London.

Mr Livingstone said:
“We now have the reality of the alternative to my administration – with Elizabeth Howlett AM voting to abolish a benefit that saves Merton families with school-age children up to £350 a year for each child.

’11,225 young people in Merton are currently benefiting from the free travel.‘
‘Thanks to free bus travel for under 18s, access to education, sport and leisure has been opened up for thousands of young people in Merton. The proposal to abolish it would cost families hundreds of pounds a year and hit the poorest families hardest.

‘Polls show that eight out of ten Londoners support the policy of helping families by making bus travel for young people free.

'The alternative that has been put would only even apply in six boroughs, depriving most families of any benefit at all. This is a scorched earth agenda towards London's services.

‘The threat to free travel for young Londoners comes in the same week that London Councils tried in the House of Lords to abolish my ability to guarantee the Freedom Pass for over a million older Londoners and disabled people."


Notes for editors:
1. All under-18s in full time education were granted free bus and tram travel on 1 September 2006. The Mayor had previously introduced free bus and tram travel for under-11s in January 2004 and under-16s in September 2005.

2. 385,000 young Londoners benefit from free travel on buses and trams.
3. A MORI survey carried out on 30th September 2005 showed that 80 per cent of Londoners back the move.
4. London Councils is the umbrella body, which represents London's boroughs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surprise surprise, someone has fallen for the Mayor's spin.

The GLA Tories have proposed to replace the blanket free travel with a free dedicated school bus service so that kids can get to school and fare paying passengers might actually get a seat without fear of getting their heads kicked in by gangs of kids they are paying to subsidise.

I know what I'd prefer....get rid of free travel, it would sort out a lot of the problems on the buses and knock a bit of our council tax bills at the same time.

Nice one Elizabeth.

2:03 pm  

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