Support for rural travellers

Having read Sir Edward Leigh’s column in the Standard last week, I looked up his speech given in the rural communities debate in the House of Commons.

Such a debate is a rare event indeed and Sir Edward made some very strong points for rural communities to be better supported. He said “It is obvious that most people who live in rural areas travel further than other people - 45% further per year than the English average and 53% further than those who live in urban areas. Plainly, the very DNA of rural existence requires travel over longer distances. We in Lincolnshire know all about long distances. Some 96% of urban households have a regular bus service, and the 72 Members of Parliament who represent constituencies in Greater London have fantastic tube and bus services. Only 42% of households in rural areas have a regular bus service.”

Thank you Sir Edward for contrasting our plight with those who live near the village of Westminster. Regretfully your hope that the minister, Dan Rogerson, would report good news to your request that “we need action on fuel poverty, the cost of living and disparities between rural and urban areas, particularly with regard to Government funding, which is in the Government’s control” was dashed.

Gainsborough Rail and Bus Users Group (GRaB) will continue to find ways of using our labyrinthine system of government to establishing better public transport in our area. On the Monday following Sir Edward’s speech the House of Commons Transport committee took evidence on bus and rail services for isolated communities. The largest proportion of bus users are the young who cannot afford to run cars but need to reach college or work and to have a life in the evenings and weekends. It was felt that evening and Sunday bus services are vital, but we have neither in our area. I feel sure we can count on Sir Edward to support us in our efforts.

Keith Panter