South Yorkshire’s Mayor blasts PM Rishi Sunak on his comments about bus funding

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South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard has today written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following comments he made about funding for buses in an interview with BBC Look North last night (Thursday 28th September).

During the interview, the Prime Minister stated that buses were “the most popular form of transport in the north and around the country” and spoke about how the government are investing more in bus routes and services.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments in a letter today, Oliver Coppard said: “Your statement is simply not true.

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“Like thousands of others across Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield, I was deeply disappointed to hear you recognise the importance of buses here in the North while making misleading claims about the bus funding made available to South Yorkshire.”

Rishi Sunak speaks with a bus passenger.Rishi Sunak speaks with a bus passenger.
Rishi Sunak speaks with a bus passenger.

Mayor Coppard explained in his letter that South Yorkshire had received nothing from the £434 million bid submitted as part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan fund, nothing from the £37 million Levelling Up fund bid for Demand Responsive Transport solutions and that South Yorkshire received less than 50 per cent of previous support funding in the latest round of emergency restrictions funding in July this year.

The mayor’s letter to the Prime Minister also details stories from people across South Yorkshire who have been badly affected by the region’s declining bus network due to funding cuts, it said: “In recent weeks I have been told about people who have had to turn down job and training opportunities because they couldn’t rely on bus services.

"I have heard from the family of a pensioner who fell and hit her head because she was forced to walk a difficult route home after her bus services were cut back. I have heard countless stories about communities cut off because of the broken bus network.”

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“I would urge you to finally make good on your promises to our communities and deliver the investment in our transport infrastructure that we both need and deserve.”

It was also revelaed this week that Rishi Sunak is to prioritise the interests of millions of car owners.

In a package expected to be announced at the Tory conference on Monday, the PM will set out his “plan for motorists” that will limit the number of 20mph speed restrictions and favour drivers over bus passengers.

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