In April of this year, the Government brought in its Concessionary Bus Travel Act. This scheme made provision for free bus travel from 9.30am until 11pm on weekdays, and all day at weekends. Unfortunately, although this scheme allowed national travel it replaced a provision which allowed travel within the local area from 9am. The Act also allowed for local District Councils to "top up" from their own money to allow travel from 9am.
Sadly, in Kent, nobody actually did this, so the elderly and disabled lost thirty minutes of free bus travel.
For many residents, particularly those in rural areas, if they could no longer get the early bus to their GP or hospital appointment, their next bus was in some cases hours later.
But at our Cabinet meeting on Monday of this week, KCC's Cabinet agreed to fund this "golden half hour" at a cost of £150,000 a year, so that the elderly and disabled could once more catch their bus from 9am.
This has put us somewhat out of favour with one or two of the Districts. In my view, we should put internal politics aside and put the people first. Why shouldn't we use the scale of the County Council to put the people of Kent first?