SNP Council Candidate for East Kilbride West, David Watson, has slammed local Labour candidates from South Lanarkshire Council, for spreading unfounded scare stories about a reduction in local bus services and concessionary travel.

David said:

“Leaflets have been circulated in the South Lanarkshire and Glasgow area, wrongly claiming that the SNP Government is putting the concessionary travel scheme under threat, cutting services such as the 31 and also increasing the cost of bus fares. This is simply just not true.

“Local residents have become all too used to this kind of negative campaigning –  which shows similarities to their untrue claims during the elections last year when they said that the SNP would cut concessionary travel if we got into power.

“Clearly they have not learned from the electorate’s huge rejection of their petty negative politics. In fact – the budget for concessionary travel has increased from £185 million in 2011/12 to £192 million in 2012/13 and has also been extended to include eligibility for injured armed forces veterans. Concessionary bus fares are safe with the SNP-and only with the SNP.

“This issue is of importance to me because at a time when Westminster is implementing huge cuts to the Scottish budget, bus companies should be ensuring that they use the public money they receive as effectively as possible to benefit their passengers.

“The SNP make no apologies for insisting on that and for Labour to argue otherwise is ridiculous. Bus operators set their own fares and have no excuse for punishing customers by cutting services – such as the 31 which is the only route to serve Stewartfield – or increasing fares.

“If Labour really cared about services then would be joining the SNP in getting the operators to behave responsibly. The fact they are blaming us shows they are only interested in scoring points.”

By voting for your SNP candidates on 3rd of May, you will be ensuring that Concessionary travel is protected. By contrast, Labour cut concessionary travel in England and the “Con-Dems” favour increasing the age level to save money.

First Bus state that fuel prices and economic conditions over the years are contributing to their increased costs.  The SNP have consistently called for a fuel duty regulator to stabilise costs for all forms of transport and to scrap plans which would increase duty in August. Labour has voted no to all our Fuel regulator amendments and the whole, abstained from our opposition motion.

The Scottish government has committed annual funding of £248.5 million to the bus industry each year – and despite year on year deep cuts from the UK government in Westminster, the industry’s allocations has only been reduced by £6.7 million from the 2011/12 amount.

The new Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) is moving away from a ‘pence per litre’ basis to a ‘pence per in service Kilometre’ basis. The new arrangement will see a system based on fuel usage to a system based on distance travelled, which will create an incentive for bus companies to be more environmentally friendly. In 2010, the first round of the new greener bus fund saw 48 new low carbon vehicles which are already showing substantial savings in fuel costs and emissions.

David added:

“An SNP administration at South Lanarkshire Council will work with the Scottish Government to do what it can do to protect local bus services and ensure that the operators do not add more of a burden on family’s already tight budgets with unfair fare hikes.”

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