Pressure is mounting for First to be sacked after they announced a fourth fares rise this year. Lobbied by WWOBB protestors, Sheffield Council leader Jan Wilson retorted “I want our buses back, too!” Three days later, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority (SYPTA) passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in First’s management. Even the Lib-Dems have called for First to have their licence withdrawn – only to be replaced by another private operator (who would also put profit before passengers).
That’s the problem. Despite a lot of huffing and puffing, because of Tory de-regulation and the New Labour government continuing with privatisation for 8 years, the PTA and Council are almost powerless to do anything.
The transport workers’ union is pressing for Quality Bus Contracts to be introduced so the council could set fares, routes and frequencies (a form of regulation, similar to London buses). But Jan Wilson says Quality Contracts are a very difficult thing to achieve and no other council has done it yet.
WWOBB, a broad-based campaign, supports this demand but goes further calling for renationalisation of public transport, a policy supported by 90% of people we talk to.
WWOBB is gaining increasing influence due to our high profile campaigning work, gaining invites to speak at the TGWU branch and Pensioners Action Group, as well as onto the local radio question time programme.
Council cabinet member for transport, Terry Fox, will attend WWOBB’s next campaign meeting, no doubt to tell us he’s on our side, but …. . That’s the point though. Unless these councillors make a stand against privatisation and their own Labour government, their outrage at First’s profiteering is just so much hot air.
WWOBB will ask them to march with us on the 19th, but either way, we will keep putting First, the council and government under pressure until we get our buses back.
We Want Our Buses Back! (WWOBB)
Who we are:
WWOBB is a campaign group set up after the last fare rises and cuts in bus services in July this year.
Thatcher’s deregulation and privatisation in 1987 has led to private operators like ‘First’ gaining a near monopoly and putting profit before passengers. They raise fares and cut services without any regulation.
“We want our buses back” where services have been axed or reduced.
And “We want our buses back” into public control and ownership.
What we’ve done:
· Organised public meetings like in Meersbrook where the No.8 and No.49 buses were cut
· Got 3,000 signatures on our petition
· Petitioned and spoken at Sheffield City Council meeting
· Lobbied the Bus Commission
· Protested to local government minister at Sheffield First City