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Local MP, Angela Smith is delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP to South Yorkshire to discuss the Government’s proposals to improve bus services. At a special Forum being hosted by Ms Smith at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield, he will take part in a question and answer session with the public on how he intends to improve services in South Yorkshire and other cities in the UK. Other members of the panel include Nicola Shaw, Managing Director, First Buses, Paul Lynch, Managing Director, Stagecoach Yorkshire, Roy Wicks, Director General, SYPTE, and representatives of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry and leading politicians from South Yorkshire.

With one of the main issue affecting people’s lives, especially in South Yorkshire, being bus services, this forum will be an ideal opportunity for people with an interest in bus services to question some of the key players in public transport both nationally and locally.
This spring the Government published a Draft Transport Bill which it hopes will build on much of the work it has already done on public transport over the last 10 years. A decade which has seen more rail passengers use the rail network than at any time since the 1960s; free local bus travel introduced for older and disabled people in their local areas and with free national travel to come

It is clear, however, that more needs to be done if we are to be better equipped to ensure transport can continue to sustain economic growth. The draft Local Transport Bill is a demonstration of a commitment to empower local authorities to take appropriate steps to meet local transport needs in the light of local circumstances.

We need strong local leadership and a coherent approach to transport to make sure it works for local areas. This Bill proposes a series of reforms to the existing legislation to ensure that local authorities have the freedom and flexibility to do so in a way that best meets local needs.

However, it is important that any proposals are right and publication of the draft Bill provides an important opportunity to ensure this is the case. The Forum hosted by Ms Smith is designed to do just that and give the people of South Yorkshire the chance to influence key decision makers on what they want to see from their bus services.

Commenting, Ms Smith said, “I have been pushing for a Bill on improving bus services ever since I was elected to parliament. Along with many other MPs I was delighted when the government decided it would legislate. I was even more pleased when I found out that there would pre-legislative scrutiny of the government’s proposals. The proposals being put forward by the
Government will I believe give local areas much more say in how bus services are run. However, it is important local people have their say too, that is why I asked the Secretary of State to come to South Yorkshire to discuss with local people what they want to see from their bus services. I am pleased to he has decided to visit South Yorkshire to listen to people who have seen their once excellent service reduced to a pale imitation of what it was. I believe they have a lot to offer and can help government make sure bus services in the future run for the benefit of passengers as well as shareholders of bus companies.”

Issued : 15 June 2007

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