Issue - meetings

English National Concessionary Travel Scheme - Discretionary Rail Cards

Meeting: 02/07/2020 - Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee (Item 12)

12 Call-in: English National Concessionary Travel Scheme - Discretionary Rail Cards HI02 (20/21) pdf icon PDF 62 KB

The Director of Law and Assurance has agreed to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure concerning the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme - Discretionary Rail Cards HI02 (20/21) decision, published on the Executive Decision Database on 10 June 2020 and in the Member’s Bulletin on 10 June 2020.

 

The decision report asks the Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure to consider the outcome of the consultation and endorse the withdrawal of the current offer of a free senior rail card as an alternative to a free bus pass to eligible older West Sussex residents from October 2020.

 

The decision report by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure is attached as Annex 1

 

The call-in was initiated by Mr Michael Jones supported by Ms Karen Sudan, Mr Brian Quinn, and Mr Chris Oxlade. The decision has not previously been previewed by the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee.

 

Mr Jones has been invited to outline the reasons for the call-in request to the Committee.

 

Mr Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, has been invited to address the Committee and answer questions.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

12.1Cllr Jones introduced the request to call-in the decision by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure concerning the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme -Discretionary Rail Cards HI02 (20/21) (call in request appended to the signed minutes) and highlighted the following points:

 

12.2In his view he believes that the Cabinet Members thinks that this is a luxury but for the elderly it is essential. It provides a service for people who live in areas that have no buses.

 

12.3Railcards are now even more important as some socially important bus routes have been cut, some of which were cut because the railcard was available as an alternative.

 

12.4It is not widely known that the Rail Card option exists and when asked many people said that the Rail Card would have been a better option.

 

12.5That this proposal conflicts with the West Sussex Local Transport Plan and Climate Change Strategy by reducing sustainable travel options.

 

12.6Asked why the current holders of the Rail Card were not contacted as part of the consultation and also questioned why the consultation was advertised on buses.

 

12.7Cllr Elkins, Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure addressed the Committee, highlighting the following points:

 

12.8This is a financial decision and the Rail Card is purely discretionary and is therefore not required to support the Local Transport Policy.

 

12.9This withdrawal will bring West Sussex County Council in line with other authorities in the South East.

 

12.10 The Rail Cards are used predominately for longer journeys and        there is no evidence that it’s withdrawal will lead to an increase in car journeys.

 

12.11 It is not at odds with the Climate Change Strategy as there is still the option to purchase for £30 for one year or £70 for three years.

 

12.12 Buses have been funded where people did not have access to rail such as the Compass 100 route.  Focus is being given to where the funding can be used such as providing a village shopping bus twice a week or putting the funds towards community transport.

 

12.13 It was confirmed by officers that all holders of the rail card were written to and that less than 20% replied.

 

12.14 The Committee made a number of comments including those that follow. It:

 

·       Stated that although the saving was small it was still a saving and asked whether any thought had been given to means testing for both bus passes and the rail card.

 

·       Sought clarification on whether disabled people would still be able to get a rail card and were reassured that this would still be the case and that this would also apply to any companion.

 

·       Raised concerns that the scheme was not very well advertised and that it needs promoting more widely.

 

·       Sought clarification on whether the savings would still be made if all the current rail card holders switched to a bus pass.

 

·       Asked whether this decision could be looked at again in a year or two should  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12