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Labour community activists have persuaded bus giant, First, to host a public meeting in Midsomer Norton in response to criticism of the new bus fares they introduced last month.

“Our campaign for better bus services in our area is in its early stages,” said Radstock town councillor, Anne Marie Jovcic-Sas, who is a Labour candidate for the B&NES council elections next year.

“We are determined to make a strong case to the local authority and bus providers to ensure we don’t lose out. Which is why we agreed a bus passenger charter that we presented to First after the Radstock public meeting.”

The highlights of the charter include:

  • restoring cheaper day return fares where the price of two single tickets exceeds £5
  • allowing £1.50 single fares from all of Radstock to all of Midsomer Norton (and vice versa) regardless of whether the length of the journey is over three miles (using a zone system)
  • extending the young person's discount card to include everyone up to the age of 25
  • providing multi-operator tickets which are valid across all bus services.

The public meeting with First takes place on Wednesday 17 September at Midsomer Norton Town Hall, starting at 6pm.

“There are signs that First are beginning to listen to us,” said Cllr Chris Dando, who is also a Radstock town councillor and standing for B&NES next year. “We need to use this demonstration of ‘people power’ to persuade them of the strength of our argument.”

A bus stop petition is also being organised by the local Labour Party with Parliamentary candidate, Todd Foreman, throwing his weight behind the campaign.

“This affects the whole of the Somer Valley area where the lack of economic activity has seen a heavy reliance on public transport to major employment or service centres in Bath and Bristol,” said Todd. “People need fairer fares and First has given me an undertaking that they are willing to reconsider specific points if there is enough popular support for change.”

“I would urge all bus users to make their voices heard,” added Cllr Jovcic-Sas. “As well as First, we need to lobby B&NES Council as subsidised bus routes are constantly under threat because of Lib Dem budget cuts.

“For example, proposed changes to the 768 bus route will disadvantage local people who want to travel to Midsomer Norton High Street (or Paulton Hospital) and spend some time there before making the return journey home.

“The gap between the dropping-off time and the picking-up time – which is currently over an hour – but may be cut to just 40 minutes.

“This will have a negative effect on people from Timsbury, Camerton, Clandown, Writhlington and Radstock who use the 768 bus to visit their doctor, dentist or hospital.

“Currently they can make good use of any spare time in Midsomer Norton High Street to do some shopping before catching the bus home. The proposed timetable changes will make this difficult.

“These are the sorts of things bus users need to be telling the powers that be and the public meeting – as well as our petition – provide the best opportunity to do that.”

 

 

Labour Bus Campaign Continues

Labour community activists have persuaded bus giant, First, to host a public meeting in Midsomer Norton in response to criticism of the new bus fares they introduced last month.

 

Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset at the next general election, has responded to statements about fracking made recently by North East Somerset's current Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg

 

Speaking on Channel 4 News, Rees-Mogg strongly welcomed plans by the government to allow fracking to go ahead in Britain, including in some cases under “exceptional circumstances” and over the objection of local Councils in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).  Rees-Mogg indicated in the interview that potential to raise more money through fracking than tourism in an AONB could amount to an “exceptional circumstance” that could justify fracking. Rees-Mogg also repeated claims that fracking in Britain will lead to cheaper energy prices for UK consumers.

 

Todd Foreman said:

 

“North East Somerset is home to Chew Valley Lake and portions of the Mendip Hills and Cotswolds AONBs, and is also in close proximity to underground hot springs at Bath Spa which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of these natural features, my view has always been that North East Somerset is not an appropriate place to conduct fracking.  This view is shared by Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) which has taken a clear position that North East Somerset is not an appropriate place to conduct fracking."

 

“Jacob Rees-Mogg is putting the interests of the fracking industry ahead of his constituents in North East Somerset.  Rees-Mogg continues to insist that fracking for shale gas will lead to lower gas prices for British energy consumers, however this claim is disputed by many experts, including Lord Browne who is chairman of the UK's leading shale gas company"

 

“Furthermore, Rees-Mogg is ignoring the wishes of Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) Council, which has expressed a clear view that B&NES is not an appropriate location to conduct fracking.  The plans the government has published will allow the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to overrule decisions of local authorities like B&NES to prohibit fracking locally"

 

“North East Somerset needs an MP who will prioritise renewable energy sources and protect the local environment rather than acting as a cheerleader for the fracking industry.  If elected as North East Somerset's MP at next year's general election, I will support B&NES Council in its efforts to prevent fracking in North East Somerset.”

 

1.           Jacob Rees-Mogg's appearance on Channel 4 News is available here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omkevjNeWdQ. Rees-Mogg's claim that fracking will lead to cheaper energy for UK consumers is at 6:34.  His statement about “exceptional circumstances” and tourism revenue versus drilling revenue in AONBs is at 8:55.

2.           Bath and North East Somerset Council has reached a cross-party consensus against allowing fracking locally.  See http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Political-parties-unite-opposition-fracking-Bath/story-19507361-detail/story.html

3.           Lord Browne, Chairman of the British shale gas driller Cuadrilla Resources, has said that fracking in Britain will not lead to lower energy prices for UK consumers.  See http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/29/browne-fracking-not-reduce-uk-gas-prices-shale-energy-bills

Labour Parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset responds to Jacob Rees-Mogg's statements on fracking

  Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset at the next general election, has responded to statements about fracking made recently by North East Somerset's current Conservative MP,...

Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidate
for North East Somerset, welcomed a cross-party report by the MPs' Business,
Innovation and Skills select committee which found that taxpayers lost £1
billion in the government's privatisation of the Royal Mail.

The Royal Mail was privatised last October in an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares. Despite warnings from experts and huge demand for the shares from investors, the Government priced the shares well below what they were worth. The MPs' report comes comes on the heels of a report in April by the independent National Audit Office (NAO) which likewise found that the Government should have made more from the sale and that taxpayers have been ripped off.2

The report by the MPs' select committee found that, “the performance of Royal Mail shares points to a pricing decision that was too influenced by perceived risks and fear of failure” as opposed to getting best value for taxpayers.

Commenting on the report, Todd Foreman said:

 

“The recent privatisation by the Government of the Royal Mail has been a fiasco that has seen a prized state asset sold for far less than it is worth while a privileged few have made massive profits. Now a cross-party group of MPs have examined the sale and found that taxpayers have lost out to the tune of £1 billion. But rather than accept responsibility for its failure, the Government persists in claiming that taxpayers got a good deal.

“A few fat cat investors and investment banks have made hundreds of millions of profit out of the privatisation, while taxpayers have been ripped off and many small investors who wanted to participate in the IPO were left out.

It's extremely disappointing that the reaction of North East Somerset's Tory MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been to defend the rip off of taxpayers. Speaking in Parliament, Rees Mogg said that the fact that Royal Mail share prices increased sharply after they were sold at an undervalue was “a sign of enormous confidence of the economic policies of Her Majesty's Government.”3

Todd Foreman added: 

 

 “In defending the “fire sale” of Royal Mail, Jacob Rees-Mogg has sided with a few wealthy fat cats who have made an enormous, quick profit at the expense of the taxpayer, rather than standing up for the interests of the vast majority of his constituents.”

 

Todd Foreman is a lawyer with over a decade's experience in banking and financial services and is Labour's Parliamentary candidate in North East Somerset

 

1See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28250963. The report can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmbis/539/539.pdf

2The NAO report can be found here: http://www.nao.org.uk/report/privatisation-of-royal-mail-plc/

3Jacob Rees-Mogg made his comments in Parliament on 1 April. See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140401/debtext/140401-0001.htm#14040172001031.

Todd welcomes cross-party report into Royal Mail privatisation fiasco

Todd Foreman, Labour's parliamentary candidatefor North East Somerset, welcomed a cross-party report by the MPs' Business,Innovation and Skills select committee which found that taxpayers lost £1billion in the government's privatisation...

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