Labour re-iterates support for wider bus franchising as Bill detail emerges


Labour’s shadow transport secretary has re-iterated her determination to secure bus franchising powers for ‘any area that wants them’, following a limited concession from the Government on the Bus Services Bill.

One clause of the Bus Services Bill

Although the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday promised franchising services to combined authorities with elected mayors, a Government briefing said other applications from local authorities will be considered on a case by case basis.

The relevant clause in the Bill requires councils seeking to implement franchising schemes to obtain the transport secretary’s permission before preparing 'an assessment', except in the case of mayoral combined authorities or groupings of combined authorities.

It is not yet clear what authorities would have to submit to obtain such permission, although they must publish 'a notice stating that they intend to prepare an assessment'.

In a Commons debate on Thursday before the text became available, shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood confirmed that Labour will seek ‘to ensure that those powers are available to any area that wants them’.

Ms Greenwood said: ‘I welcome the concession the transport secretary has made.’ But she added: ‘It is, however, unclear why those powers should remain in the gift of the Department.’

The shadow transport secretary criticised ministers for not making the text of the Bus Services Bill available for the Commons debate.

At the time of writing the Bill has not yet been made available online. The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on Thursday and was ordered to be printed.

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