Monday, January 21, 2013

Suffolk - Conservative U-Turn on explore card shows just how wrong they were

Today's announcement that the Conservative administration is planning a new discount travel card for young people in Suffolk shows just how damaging the decision to abolish the scheme was in the first place.

When the explore card was cut in 2011 as part of the New Strategic Direction ideology budget on grounds of 'cost', the Liberal Democrats warned that this short-sighted decision would cause significant damage to the educational, work and training prospects of a whole cohort of young people.  And of course this damage did occur - in the middle of last year the Conservatives heard full details directly from Suffolk Lib Dem councillors, from schools and colleges, from parents and – most of all – from the young people affected.

Cllr Caroline Page, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Roads and Transport said, "Bringing back this card is obviously a successful outcome for the Suffolk Liberal Democrats, but most importantly all the young people and their families who have been lobbying for the restoration of this card since it was withdrawn."

"We all told the Conservatives that scrapping the Explore card would – and did – cause huge problems to those who wanted to get an education and a job.  But the Cabinet member for Roads and Transport memorably replied, "you can't spend a pound more than once." In such circumstances, the wise idea is to choose carefully what you do spend your pounds on in the first place. This was the same Cabinet that agreed the expenditure of really quite a lot of pounds on Suffolk Circle." 

"Why has it taken so long for the Conservatives to implement this decision? Why didn't they just review the explore card rather than cutting it completely and leaving many young people struggling to get to college and employment? Why has this happened now, when this is an issue that should have been extremely important throughout the years, and not just pre-election?"

Cllr John Field, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader said, "This U-turn shows just how wrong the Conservatives were in their decision to remove the explore card.  The Lib Dems urge the Council to roll out this new Oyster-type scheme as quickly as possible. We must reverse, wherever possible, the harm they have caused and are continuing to cause to the next generation of Suffolk."

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