Failure is time to show leadership
Wednesday 20th March 2013, 3:30PM GMT.
AFTER years of prevarication and millions of pounds-worth of taxpayer money being thrown at it, there is a sense that finally some rational thought might be brought to bear on Guernsey’s bus service.
The first indication is the Environment minister’s admission that it is failing and that steps need to be taken now to prevent it from dying.
The second is the Housing minister saying that throwing cash at the buses to reduce the level of traffic simply isn’t working.
This has been self-evident since the previous Environment board ignored the wishes of the States at the time and not only failed to implement paid parking but was allowed to get away with that.
Since then, millions more have been squandered and a wholly bogus tax rise applied to fuel in the pursuit of the unattainable because the politicians on Environment either lacked courage or else were blinkered to reality.
Consultants Capita could not believe the stupidity of the situation – and made that as clear as they could at the time – but the nonsense has been allowed to continue and now islanders and visitors face a big increase in fares to make up for the revenue lost as the service haemorrhages passengers.
And that’s before anything is done about replacing the ageing fleet.
Under Guernsey’s bizarre system of government, five members of one department can set their face against States policy and get away with it, playing fast and loose with public cash and damaging a semi-essential service in the meantime.
Will this Assembly have the collective backbone to sort things out? Since that means introducing paid parking, probably not. But at least this Environment recognises that it is back on the agenda.
The problem is that there are four conflicting demands from islanders: reduced traffic and congestion, a better (more expensive to run) bus service, absolutely no restrictions on car use and definitely no paid parking.
Unless the slow death of the bus service and more wasted taxpayer money is to be avoided, however, the States has to show leadership and take a decision.
And paid parking is the key to giving islanders at least three things that they want.
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