Fears that vital Dundee bus services face the axe in just a few weeks

29 Jan 2024
206

Dundee City Council’s Liberal Democrat Group has said it fears that vital Dundee bus services face the axe in just a few weeks, following the council’s failure to find alternative funding sources following the SNP council administration axing financial support for these services that are mainly used by elderly passengers in the city.

The routes affected are the 202, 204, 206, 236, and 51 that serve Broughty Ferry, the West End, Lochee, Kirkton, Lawside, the Glens, Mill O’ Mains, and Mid Craigie, along with the shopping service for elderly people in sheltered housing which also faces the axe.

Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader and West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson said, “When the SNP axed the funding at last year’s budget to take effect from 1st April 2024, the spin the council put out was that it was seeking alternative funding for these services to save them from being lost from the end of this financial year, but it is looking increasingly like this has failed, with the exception of the voluntary sector possibly taking over the “Out and About” service to take older folk on occasional trips.

“In my own ward area, my ward colleague Cllr Michael Crichton and I have received many concerns about the likely loss of Service 204.    It serves some streets that have either no alternative bus service – like Windsor Street, Magdalen Yard Road and Roseangle – or very little in the way of an alternative service – like Tullideph Road.     Bus users are mainly elderly and the 204 is a lifeline as parts of the route are very hilly and if the 204 goes, walking to the nearest alternative service some distance away is simply not possible for older folk, particularly for those with mobility difficulties.”

Minutes of the Dundee Transport Forum from last month underline that the future of the supported services and sheltered shopping service looks bleak.    The Transport Forum is a liaison group between council transportation officers and community groups across Dundee and the minutes accept that the shoppers’ bus is “a lifeline service.”

The Liberal Democrat Group has written to the Director of City Development at the City Council and Head of Sustainable Transport and Roads seeking clarity and an assurance that the council will continue efforts to find funding for the services.     Councillor Macpherson indicated that, if all else fails, the Liberal Democrat Group will attempt to find the funding to save the services in its budget amendment at this year’s revenue budget meeting next month although he added that “the SNP administration has a long history of ignoring any proposals from other council groups so we are less than hopeful.”

Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan, whose ward is served by Service 206, said :

“I am deeply concerned about the possible loss of the 206 that is a great help to many residents to take them into central Broughty Ferry for shopping and also to Dobbie’s at Ethiebeaton Park.    All credit goes to the locals who have organised petitions against the loss of the 206.    

“I do sometimes wonder about the sense of priority of the SNP.    The SNP administration has recently spent £85 000 of public money on hybrid equipment to run council committee meetings simultaneously online and in-person.    This was, in the view of the Liberal Democrat Group not a priority while vital services are under pressure.    I think if you asked the Dundee public if £85 000 should be spent on council committee hybrid equipment or on vital bus services that are used mainly by older residents, I think we all know what they would say.    It shows how out of touch the SNP administration has become.”

Strathmartine Councillor Daniel Coleman, whose ward is served by Service 202 in The Dales, Downfield and Kirkton, said the loss of the service would be keenly felt by local people.    He added :

“If these buses get axed, there will be a real gap in provision and it is older people who will be most impacted.   The council is supposed to go through a process of integrated impact assessments to ensure no vulnerable groups are disproportionately badly impacted by decisions.    This decision fails that test at the first hurdle.     The decision rather makes a mockery of the council’s oft-repeated virtue signalling talk about "inclusivity” - many elderly residents don’t drive and cannot afford taxis particularly during this cost of living crisis.

“Some councils such as Renfrewshire Council are now carrying out comprehensive reviews of public transport in their areas to look at gaps in provision and possible solutions.    In contrast, Dundee is creating more gaps and the decline in supported bus services in the city over the SNP’s tenure in running the council administration is to be deeply regretted.    

“We should always be looking to make the public transport network better and the council must now look at all options to ensure communities across Dundee have the best possible access to public transport and in a way that encourages people to use it.”

Fears that vital Dundee bus services face the axe in just a few weeks

Dundee City Council’s Liberal Democrat Group has said it fears that vital Dundee bus services face the axe in just a few weeks, following the council’s failure to find alternative funding sources following the SNP council administration axing financial support for these services that are mainly used by elderly passengers in the city.

The routes affected are the 202, 204, 206, 236, and 51 that serve Broughty Ferry, the West End, Lochee, Kirkton, Lawside, the Glens, Mill O’ Mains, and Mid Craigie, along with the shopping service for elderly people in sheltered housing which also faces the axe.

Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader and West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson said:

“When the SNP axed the funding at last year’s budget to take effect from 1st April 2024, the spin the council put out was that it was seeking alternative funding for these services to save them from being lost from the end of this financial year, but it is looking increasingly like this has failed, with the exception of the voluntary sector possibly taking over the “Out and About” service to take older folk on occasional trips.

“In my own ward area, my ward colleague Cllr Michael Crichton and I have received many concerns about the likely loss of Service 204.    It serves some streets that have either no alternative bus service – like Windsor Street, Magdalen Yard Road and Roseangle – or very little in the way of an alternative service – like Tullideph Road.     Bus users are mainly elderly and the 204 is a lifeline as parts of the route are very hilly and if the 204 goes, walking to the nearest alternative service some distance away is simply not possible for older folk, particularly for those with mobility difficulties.”

 

Minutes of the Dundee Transport Forum from last month underline that the future of the supported services and sheltered shopping service looks bleak.    The Transport Forum is a liaison group between council transportation officers and community groups across Dundee and the minutes accept that the shoppers’ bus is “a lifeline service.”

The Liberal Democrat Group has written to the Director of City Development at the City Council and Head of Sustainable Transport and Roads seeking clarity and an assurance that the council will continue efforts to find funding for the services.     Councillor Macpherson indicated that, if all else fails, the Liberal Democrat Group will attempt to find the funding to save the services in its budget amendment at this year’s revenue budget meeting next month although he added that “the SNP administration has a long history of ignoring any proposals from other council groups so we are less than hopeful.”

Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan, whose ward is served by Service 206, said :

“I am deeply concerned about the possible loss of the 206 that is a great help to many residents to take them into central Broughty Ferry for shopping and also to Dobbie’s at Ethiebeaton Park.    All credit goes to the locals who have organised petitions against the loss of the 206.    

“I do sometimes wonder about the sense of priority of the SNP.    The SNP administration has recently spent £85 000 of public money on hybrid equipment to run council committee meetings simultaneously online and in-person.    This was, in the view of the Liberal Democrat Group not a priority while vital services are under pressure.    I think if you asked the Dundee public if £85 000 should be spent on council committee hybrid equipment or on vital bus services that are used mainly by older residents, I think we all know what they would say.    It shows how out of touch the SNP administration has become.”

Strathmartine Councillor Daniel Coleman, whose ward is served by Service 202 in The Dales, Downfield and Kirkton, said the loss of the service would be keenly felt by local people.    He added :

“If these buses get axed, there will be a real gap in provision and it is older people who will be most impacted.   The council is supposed to go through a process of integrated impact assessments to ensure no vulnerable groups are disproportionately badly impacted by decisions.    This decision fails that test at the first hurdle.     The decision rather makes a mockery of the council’s oft-repeated virtue signalling talk about "inclusivity” - many elderly residents don’t drive and cannot afford taxis particularly during this cost of living crisis.

“Some councils such as Renfrewshire Council are now carrying out comprehensive reviews of public transport in their areas to look at gaps in provision and possible solutions.    In contrast, Dundee is creating more gaps and the decline in supported bus services in the city over the SNP’s tenure in running the council administration is to be deeply regretted.    

“We should always be looking to make the public transport network better and the council must now look at all options to ensure communities across Dundee have the best possible access to public transport and in a way that encourages people to use it.”