Bristol Council tonight voted unanimously for a motion opposing the government’s plans to close ticket offices at train stations. Green Councillors supported the Labour motion, and amended it before the meeting to include rail unions in the council’s discussions with Great Western Railway.
Green Councillor and national co-leader of the Party, Carla Denyer, has previously condemned the government’s plans to close ticket offices. Speaking to support the motion, Carla backed public ownership, saying:
“If the Government wants to save money on the subsidies it gives to private train operating companies, it should do what the Green Party has long proposed, return the franchises to public control when they expire so that money spent on trains goes back into trains – and ticket offices – not into the pockets of remote shareholders. Public transport should be run for people, not profit.”
Before the meeting, Green Councillors worked with other parties to amend the motion to add a recommendation to invite “all relevant unions, including RMT and ASLEF” to attend an internal scrutiny meeting with representatives from Great Western Railways and unions. The motion also calls on the Council to oppose the government’s proposals to close ticket offices, for the Mayor to “instruct officers to work with partners” to ensure all stations in the region have ticket machines installed, and for Party Group Leaders to lobby the West of England Combined Authority to improve accessibility at local stations.
In her speech Carla also highlighted that government austerity was ultimately to blame for funding cuts to councils and public services, and challenged both Labour and Conservative parties for upholding the “discredited” economics while opposing the outcome.
“Both the motions brought tonight ultimately relate to the impact of government austerity on cash strapped services, and both Labour and Tories are supporting them. And yet – both parties are committed to totally discredited austerity economics, and nationally neither will commit to providing councils and public services with the money they need to rebuild after over a decade of decline, or to raise money for public spending through making tax fair so that the super-rich and companies pay their fair share.
“So – it’s great that we all agree ticket offices should be saved. But at the risk of pointing out the obvious, if we want decent public services in this country we have to invest in them.”