Bus fare rises to put pressure on Council Tax

Increases to cost Hounslow Borough an extra £500,000

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Local Conservatives are highlighting the impact that increased transport fares are likely to have on next year's Council Tax.

The increases in fares recently implemented by the Mayor will cost the borough's tax payers an extra £500,000 as a result of funding that the Council is obliged to give to the London's concessionary tax fares scheme, the Freedom Pass. The borough is already paying over £5,000,000 into this scheme.

The Freedom Pass, provides free passage on public transport primarily to London residents over 60. The scheme is operated by the Association of London Government on behalf of the London boroughs, which are recharged by the ALG, and now costs around £200m per year.

However, as a result of Mayor of London recent fare increases and, to a lesser extent, overland rail price increases, London boroughs like Hounslow face increased contributions to this scheme this year. The increased cost to Hounslow is £505,660 or a 9.68% increase which is likely to put upward pressure on Council Tax this year..

Cllr Peter Thompson commented, “Our bus prices have gone from 70p to £1.00 to £1.20 in a few months. When will the Mayor’s overspending stop? When is he going to realise that Londoners can’t – and shouldn’t – keep paying more and more in taxes and fares? The most shameful aspect of these rises is that Mr Livingstone promised back in the June Mayoral election not to increase fares. Directly breaking a central plank of his re-election campaign-and doing it after just six months back in power-shows a real disrespect for the voters who put their trust in him.”

The borough's contribution to the Freedom Pass concessionary fare scheme will be £5,729,671 in 2005/6.

The revenue from the increased fares will fund a £10 billion programme which the Mayor has described as the biggest investment in the transport infrastructure since the Second World War. Major projects in the scheme include a new bridge over the Thames, extentions to the Docklands Light Railway and the East London Line and the introduction of congestion charging to West London.

January 6, 2005