Tendered Services In Challenging Times

The following statement was taken as-is from Worcestershire County Council’s web page (see here)

As part of the BOLD programme set up to address this issue [the reduction in tendered services] and, following feedback from the public that indicated other services were of greater priority, it was decided to reduce the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on subsidising public transport not provided on a commercial basis by private operators from £4 million to £1.5 million a year.

Worcestershire, for those unfamiliar is a relatively rural area, and one with pockets of wealth, being a popular residence for commuting to other West Midlands locations. It does have the attendant issues of rural isolation, remote communities, and some areas of relative poverty.

It is interesting however that the council have taken the approach of consulting their general resident base, and (I guess) asked people to rank in order of importance a list of services. It is likely that getting bins emptied and not closing the local primary school would achieve a higher status than tendered services to a a series of villages / small estate with a few hundred residents.

The reason for this low ranking is simply that across the general population most people don’t use bus services at all, and those who do mostly use commercial services. Asking the question simply preempted the obvious (in my mind anyway) response.

This calls into question whether the “opinion poll” approach is the best solution to this type of issue, or whether the communities and groups most affected by the changes should have a greater input. This is, I believe how the majority of local authorities handle this issue.


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