Labour's travel plan is derailed

Labour's bid to secure reduced train travel for pensioners and the disabled was derailed over concerns council tax would need to rise to fund it.

Les Alden, left, could not convince Tory councillors to support his travel plans
Les Alden, left, could not convince Tory councillors to support his travel plans

Adur District Council cabinet members dismissed councillor Les Alden’s motion, calling for the council to negotiate cheaper fares for residents travelling between Chichester and Brighton.

The Conservative councillors claimed striking a deal with rail operators would be cost prohibitive – and could require a council tax hike of around three per cent.

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In dismissing the motion, leader Neil Parkin said: “Young families are really struggling to make ends meet and you would be asking them to pay extra so pensioners could get a train to Chichester or Brighton.

“I don’t think the pensioners would have that.”

Mr Alden said the idea, which formed part of Labour’s election pledges when he was voted in earlier this year, would help cut travel times for those attending hospital appointments in Brighton and Chichester.

The Eastbrook councillor said a bus journey from Fishersgate to Chichester could involve a five-hour round trip.

But Tory councillor Dave Simmons said there was no such thing as ‘free’ travel and it would require Adur to subsidise any deal.

He said they had considered a similar idea when responsibility for administrating pensioners’ travel passes was handed to West Sussex County Council but it was too costly.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Alden said: “I was very disappointed that the ruling executive members were not prepared to even examine our proposal for adding the Brighton Chichester Railway line to the Bus Pass. It will remain as Labour commitment for another day.”