Fare deal plea for passengers

ONE VOICE: Coun Andrew Pinnock said over a thousand people in Cleckheaton have signed the petition.
ONE VOICE: Coun Andrew Pinnock said over a thousand people in Cleckheaton have signed the petition.
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THE fate of Cleckheaton bus station will be revealed later today, as transport chiefs set this year’s budget.

Metro’s budget proposals will be released this afternoon and discussed at a meeting of the Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) in Leeds next Friday. It will set out where savings can be made and whether smaller bus stations – such as Clekheaton and Batley – could be closed.

Last autumn the ITA announced that it was reviewing its discretionary spending for this year, in the wake of substantial cutbacks in local authority funding.

A campaign by Cleckheaton councillors prompted a petition carrying more than 1,000 names, which was submitted to Metro last week by Coun Andrew Pinnock.

He said: “1,087 people have put their names to the petition and several have spoken to us about how much they depend on the bus station.

“More petition forms are still coming in and I will make sure these are added to the petition I have handed in.

“It will make the point even more strongly that people in Cleckheaton and Gomersal will not take any decision to close our new bus station lying down.”

Metro receives a levy from all five local authorities in West Yorkshire, but with huge cuts facing local councils reducing the amount they can pay, the transport authority has had to look at ways reduce its spending.

Metro’s statutory spending – which pays for services like free bus travel for pensioners -–would not be affected, so the axe would be likely to fall elsewhere.

However, campaigners have said that closing Cleckheaton bus station would only save the authority around £25,000 per year, significantly less than the funding shortfall facing Metro.

ITA chairman and Bradford councillor Chris Greaves said he hoped this year’s budget was ‘as painless as possible’.

He said: “The document released this week is a headline budget that does not go into specifics about routes that may be changed, but it will answer some questions over Cleckheaton bus station.

“We have now received a petition and it proves we have raised awareness of the problems facing Metro. I fully understand why it raised such concerns.

“The document last year was a warts-and-all look at how we could save in discretionary spending, we were never planning on doing all of that - even if our budget was reduced by 60 per cent. However, to ignore the options for a quiet life would be wrong.”

Ordinarily, the petition would go before Metro’s bus scrutiny panel. However, that committee is chaired by Coun Pinnock, so it would have been a case of handing it to himself. It is now likely to go before the Integrated Scrutiny panel chaired by Birkenshaw councillor Liz Smaje.

Coun Pinnock said there was no conflict of interest posed by him holding a role on Kirklees and at the ITA.