16 May 2008

Not such a vote winner?

I've always firmly believed that giving people entitled to concessionary bus travel the ability to use buses for free was always likely to be a vote winner for whichever governing party chose to implement the scheme. In the recent English local elections the prospect for free bus travel played a part in many local manifestos.

We blogged about West Lindsey district council making news headlines on local radio on the eve of the elections with the ruling LibDem party pledging to remove the pre-0930 ban on free travel for concessions if they were re-elected. The opposing Conservative party said it would only look at removing the restriction and cited the LibDems' eleventh hour announcement as breaking the rules of electioneering.

Elsewhere North East Lincolnshire Council plan to remove the time restriction and South Holland district council in southern Lincolnshire claim to be looking into doing the same.

So I was shocked to see that control of West Lindsey had passed to the Conservatives in one of the very few losses the LibDems had. It was mentioned on the 6 o' clock news on BBC1 as a shock result and directly cited as one of the reasons the LibDems continue to remain static in the polls.

There are, of course, many reasons why voters vote the way they do, but the "one in the eye for Labour" philosophy that seems to be evident up and down the country in the recent elections was not seen in West Lindsey as Labour never stood a chance in the first place: it was a clear battle between the LibDems and the Conservatives.

So now West Lindsey residents have no guarantee that their pre-0930 time restriction will be lifted under the new Conservative council. Perhaps the free concessionary fares scheme is not such a vote winner after all?