Bus fares success for 'pensioner power'

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today hailed a pensioner power success for a decision to keep senior citizen bus fares at 40 pence.He said: "Common sense has prevailed.

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today hailed a pensioner power success for a decision to keep senior citizen bus fares at 40 pence.

He said: "Common sense has prevailed. I know from my postbag the strength of pensioner feeling on this issue.

"I have no doubt, but for the sustained opposition from Ipswich people, the borough council would have pressed ahead with an increase."

The executive committee opted yesterday for a price freeze in April amid accusations of a climbdown by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat-led council.

There were fears that pensioners' fares could inflate by up to 50 per cent - reducing the council's contribution - even though pension payouts from government have been cut by £50.

Labour councillor Peter Gardiner said: "I think at the end of the day, the Tories and Liberals knew there would have been massive outcry if they had carried out their plans to jack up fares.

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"Anyone can see that increasing pensioners' bus fares by 50pc would hit the most vulnerable members of society hardest."

However, the current administration hit back at their predecessors, blaming them for originally introducing the proposed price hike. Conservative councillor Dale Jackson said they had merely reviewed the situation.

Conservative councillor John Carnall said: "I say to pensioners that the new administration has their best interests at heart."

Paul West, prospective parliamentary candidate for the conservatives, added: "This administration has got its priorities right."

Ipswich is one of the few towns in the country and the only one in Suffolk to offer two concessionary fare schemes - a countywide and an Ipswich one.

The council will be writing to current pass holders in January to invite them to renew their passes.

Any eligible resident who doesn't have one can go to the Civic Centre for an application form. A borough pass costs £1.

Inga Lockington, the council's Transport portfolio holder who proposed the scheme, said: "Most adult bus fares, which are set by the bus companies themselves, went up in October, but the concessionary fare will not be going up, so concessionary pass holders will keep on saving even more.

"This decision proves that the council is committed to public transport in Ipswich."

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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