Merseytravel: Scrutiny Committee 3rd June 2013 “Fares Review” Cllr Steve Foulkes “where you can go on a bus and you hear people say, “What’s the cheapest deal today?” you know and that shouldn’t be the case”
Unfortunately Standing Order 61 of Merseytravel’s rules in a section marked “Confidentiality” states “No record of the proceedings (or part of the proceedings) of a meeting may be taken to enable persons not present to see or hear any such proceedings without express permission” so sadly there won’t be any accompanying photos or video footage to this report. Perhaps Merseytravel didn’t get the letter from Bob O’Neill about this issue.
Attending the meeting were the Chair, Cllr Malcolm Sharp (Labour, Knowsley), Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour, Wirral), Cllr Liam Robinson (ex-officio, Labour, Liverpool), Cllr Anthony Carr (Labour, Sefton), Cllr Joanne Calvert (Labour, Liverpool), Cllr Hayley Todd (Labour, Liverpool), Cllr John Dodd (Merseytravel Alliance Signals Good Governance (which is what the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition calls itself on Merseytravel although Cllr John Dodd is a Liberal Democrat), Sefton as well as various Merseytravel officers.
The Chair started by welcoming their new Chief Executive, David Brown to the meeting. David Brown replaces their former Chief Executive Neil Scales after a brief stint by their current Deputy Chief Executive Frank Rogers as Interim Chief Executive. Mr. Brown gets a salary of £149,000. As he [David Brown] was attending his first meeting, the Chair (of the Scrutiny Committee surely who’s very raison d’être would be to scrutinise Merseytravel officers’ decisions?) said that Mr. Brown, the new Chief Executive was there purely as an “observer” and not to ask him “any questions” or “put him on the spot”.
The meeting started with the Chair asking for any apologies for absence. Apologies were given for Cllr Pauline Walton (Labour, Liverpool). The Chair asked for any declarations of interest. Nobody gave any. He then asked if the minutes of the meeting held on the 27th April 2013 were agreed as a true record of the last meeting? They were agreed.
An officer referred to by the Chair as Liz introduced item 4 Fares Review which also had an enclosure. She referred to a decision at an earlier Scrutiny Committee meeting on their priorities for the coming year and that the first workshop had been held in May. Liz said it had been well attended by councillors, not just those on the Scrutiny Committee and the workshop had brought up two potential topics to be considered. After it had been discussed with the Chair [of the Scrutiny Committee] the first two items for scrutiny had been decided as a Fares Review and an Operator Interface Review. These would report back in September, the appendix detailed the aims of the Fares Review and the expert witnesses. She said that at 9b (of the report) it asked for councillors to be nominated to be involved in the Fares Review, instead of deciding now this would be done after the Annual Meeting of Merseytravel on the 27th June. The Chair asked for any comments.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said, “Thanks Chair, I have no problem with the Terms of Reference, particularly whilst it talks about excluding us from the work that’s been going on around young people because I know that’s underway. There’s been a great deal of work on that. It would be very helpful to Scrutiny Committee for that report when that’s ready to come back to us as well as part of our overall look at fares and I think it’s an issue really that if we are in tune with the public, I think it’s something the public want us to do and I think a well documented and well thought out piece of work on scrutiny would not only be used within this organisation but be used further afield to make people recognise indeed some of the discrepancies that there are.
Certainly for the public it’s a very confusing picture outside, out there now for fares and that. I think about my own sort of various grievances I have, where you can go on a bus and you hear people say, “What’s the cheapest deal today?” you know and that shouldn’t be the case. If you’ve got an offer or there’s something that can save people money, it should be known automatically before people plan their journey. So I think we can be part of the bigger picture, I think it’s about going to areas to work on that are something that look, hopefully encourage Scrutiny [Committee] to do more pieces of work and I was thinking it’s a healthy start to our Executive/Scrutiny split so that’s what I wanted to say and thank you.”