Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 18th August, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Joel Cook  03000 416892


No. Item


Declarations of Interests by Members in items on the Agenda for this Meeting

Additional documents:


No declarations were made.


Decision 22/00052 - KCC Supported Bus Funding Review pdf icon PDF 291 KB

Additional documents:


Mr D Brazier, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport; Mr S Jones, Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport; Mr P Lightowler, Interim Director of Highways; and Mr S Pay, Public Transport Planning and Operations Manager were in attendance for this item.


1.    The Chairman introduced the item and invited the proposer of the call-in, Mr Lehmann, to provide an overview of the reasons for his call-in. Mr Sole as the seconder was also invited to speak.


2.    Mr Lehmann outlined the reasons for his call-in. He stated that the decision was not taken in accordance with the Council’s decision-making principles, when considering whether the decision was proportionate to the desired outcome, in that the consultation process had revealed the impact on the elderly, disabled and low-income residents across the county. He raised concerns that the decision may not make the intended £2.2m saving and that there was insufficient information regarding the future funding of Kent Karrier, as while the decision report outlined external sources, it did not specify amounts, funding source sustainability or whether these sources could be used for the services being terminated. He questioned whether estimates were sought for the number of pupils who would gain access to free school transport via KCC’s appeals system and for the increase in demand for the Kent Karrier services and associated costs. He added that the decision contradicted one of KCC’s net zero commitments, made in the Strategic Statement (Framing Kent’s Future), to ‘turn the curve on transport emissions.’ Stating that the decision report had failed to give an estimate of full carbon impact, with the report outlining the carbon impact relating to one of the school-day only services but not for all 57 routes. In relation to KCC’s commitments to ‘work with partners through the Kent Enhanced Bus Partnership and with Government to explore sustainable and commercially viable options for providing bus transport to meet people’s needs,’ he argued that that the cutting of the routes would not be making the best use of Bus Service Improvement Plan funding, as residents could not be incentivised to use services they did not have access to. It was queried whether operators had made further withdrawals of service, in the knowledge that subsidies were to be cut. Mr Lehmann concluded by asserting that the decision had not been taken with a presumption in favour of openness and referred to comments by the Cabinet Member made at the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 6 July 2022 that “the £2.2m saving was immutable.”


3.    Mr Sole expressed support for KCC carrying out regular reviews of bus subsidy funding to ensure residents were receiving value for money and so that a good service was retained across the county. He raised concerns that at the time the proposed cuts to the subsidised routes were announced, operators had released a long list of other non-subsidised routes which they were to stop. Concerns were shared about the environmental impact of bus routes ceasing and it was felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.