September 19th, 2011
Medway Labour stood up for Medway taxpayers and bus users on Thursday 15th September, at an Emergency Council meeting scheduled after it was revealed that the cost of the Chatham Bus station had ballooned from £5m to £7.3m.
At the special meeting, Medway Tories forced through an agreement that hundreds of thousands of extra pounds would be wired directly to Arriva, part of the German-based mega-transport group Deutsche Bahn.
Medway taxpayers have now been left with hundreds of thousands of pounds going to a German based multi-national – but they are not allowed to know about it!
The meeting was also held in private session, although members of the Labour Group voted that the public interest outweighed the commercial sensitivity. Unfortunately this was outvoted by the Tories.
Cllr Paul Godwin, Leader of the Labour Group said,
“The Tories once again have left the people of Medway with a democratic deficit. There is a history of issues of this nature being debated in public, with only the finite financial detail being commercially sensitive. The Tory administration have hidden behind the law to hide their shame in letting down the people of Medway on the issue of the Bus Station”
The Medway Labour Group moved an amendment which allowed a level playing field for all operators here in Medway, which would have also encouraged other potential bus operators to come and run services here across Medway.
Cllr Glyn Griffiths, Labour Spokesperson for Regeneration,
“The Labour Group moved an amendment which would have encouraged greater competition here in Medway, with the likelihood of reduction in residents’ bus fares – which currently are amongst the most expensive in the Country.
It shows the Medway Tories are anti-competition, are happy to give hundreds of thousands of pounds to a multi-national based in Germany, rather than encourage better public transport services here in Medway”
Cllr Vince Maple, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group said,
“The special council meeting, held in private so the public can’t hold the Tory council to account, is the latest chapter in this failed project.
The bus station was built without adequate public consultation on the location; the council leader was repeatedly unable to confirm funding was secured; it is half a year late, half a million pounds over budget and now at risk of legal challenge due to the Medway Tories anti-competition approach which could end up costing taxpayers more of their money”