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Medway misses out on Bus Back Better Scheme funding

The council has been left empty-handed in its bid to get funding for bus improvements.

Medway Council missed out on the government's Bus Back Better Scheme which had asked local authorities to submit plans to improve services in their area.

Chatham Waterfront Bus Station
Chatham Waterfront Bus Station

Earlier this month, it was announced less than half of the councils which had applied for the funding had received it and the pot of money was also slashed from a promised £3 billion to £1.2 billion.

Cllr Phil Filmer (Con), portfolio holder for frontline services, said the decision was "very disappointing".

He said: "All we can do is carry on with our partnerships with the bus companies and see what we can do within the budget that we have got.

"The idea is to get more people back on the buses than pre-Covid.

"It's not going to be easy without additional funding because there's a limit to how much we can fund from Medway Council."

Cllr Phil Filmer
Cllr Phil Filmer

The cabinet approved its Bus Improvement Plan for submission to the government last October.

The plan revolved around the following aims: more frequent and reliable services, integrating services with other transport modes, improving fares and ticketing, better bus passenger experience and engagement with passengers.

Cllr Filmer said the plan formed part of the bid but was unsure how much the authority had asked for.

Medway's exclusion from the funds was also criticised by Labour councillors.

Cllr Simon Curry (Lab), group spokesman for regeneration, culture and the environment, said: “Once again this government has over-promised and under-delivered.

Cllr Phil Filmer
Cllr Phil Filmer

"Instead of the £3 billion promised, communities in England will only be receiving less than half this sum overall.

"To make matters worse, none of this reduced amount of money will be coming to Medway.

“We desperately need to modernise our public transport to create a system that is both more environmentally and consumer friendly.

"The lack of funds heading our way to achieve this shows that when it comes to levelling-up, Medway just isn’t on the government’s radar.

"Once again, instead of receiving the investment we need, our towns have been abandoned by Westminster.”

"All we can do is carry on with our partnerships with the bus companies and see what we can do within the budget that we have got."

A Medway Council spokesman said: "We will continue to seek opportunities to bid for external funding, and will assist operators in writing bids."

The Department for Transport confirmed there will be more opportunities for local authorities to gain funding for their local transport programmes in the future.

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