The government just got away with BANNING new public bus companies

Shadow transport secretary Daniel Zeichner and Bristol MPs Karin Smyth and Kerry McCarthy

Yesterday the Bus Services Bill was passed. Unfortunately, the government has gone ahead with banning councils in England from setting up new public bus companies. 

This ban is a disgrace. Taking this option off the table will prevent councils following in the foot steps of those successful public bus companies like Nottingham and Reading. And it will stop them negotiating the best deal with private bus companies because they will know that councils have no other options. It’s also a mistake to take power away from the democratic bodies that are closest to voters. If councils could run buses they could be much more responsive to local needs.

Obviously we’re incredibly disappointed by this news. But we’re proud of the campaign we ran to try and stop this ‘nasty’ little clause from being passed. Together with you, we made public ownership of buses - something that rarely gets talked about - a huge part of the debates in parliament and in the media.

“ I pay particular tribute to the organisation We Own It, which has campaigned strongly against [the ban on new public bus companies]” Daniel Zeichner MP

In the end though, despite the support of the Lib Dems, Labour and the Green Party, given the electoral maths and the English Votes for English Laws system it was all but impossible to over turn the ban once the Conservatives had decided they were forcing it through.

We'd like to say a big thank you to all of you who supported the campaign and took action to help force it onto the agenda of MPs and councillors up and down the country. 

What our supporters helped us achieve:

  • 21,447 people signed our petition to stop the ban
  • 13,832 letters were sent to councillors
  • 40 MPs attended a photoshoot supporting the campaign 
  • 14 councils passed motions supporting our position on the ban
  • 8 partners co-signed a letter to the press denouncing the ban
  • 5 articles published in the mainstream press about the campaign
  • 3 political parties agreed with us and supported the campaign
  • 1 Transport Select Committee agreed with us after thousands of you wrote to them

The fact this bill was passed despite huge opposition and against all evidence to the contrary shows just what we are up against.

We're as frustrated as you are that we lost this one, but we're not giving up. In the run-up to the election we're going to be setting out the case for public ownership of buses (and other services) and showing exactly where the different parties stand.

We've made this a big issue. Now we need to support the parties who want to reverse the government's ban.

People need to know what this government is getting away with. A vote for them is a vote against bus passengers, a vote against local democracy, a vote for profit over people. Share this news with your friends to spread the word.

Step by step, for as long as it takes, we need to swing the consensus our way and show politicians just how strongly people feel about public ownership.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this campaign. We’re sorry we couldn’t bring you better news.