To consider the report which details the: -
a) draft revenue budget and capital programme for 2019/20;
b) the price/fare increases proposed for 2019/20; and
c) the revenue grants payable to Merseytravel in respect of general operations and Mersey Tunnels for 2019/20.
The Committee considered a report presented by the Director of Corporate Services, John Fogarty relating to the draft revenue budget and capital programme for Merseytravel, the price/fare increases proposed for 2019/20 and the revenue grants payable to Merseytravel in respect of general operations and Mersey Tunnels for 2019/20.
Members asked questions and commented on the following relating to the Budget Setting Report for 2019/20: –
· Congratulated the Finance Team for the work done to balance the budget;
· Enquired about the equality and diversity implications;
· The expenditure in the Programme Management Office;
· The Prescot Lifts and the Capital Programme;
· The Mersey Ferries cruise services and the increased in charges by multiples of 50p;
· The Supported Bus Service Fares increase to the adult fares by 10p, no change to the children's supported fare but no increase in charges to the bus operators for departure charges; and
· The Mersey Ferries Charter programme.
Councillor Steve Foulkes (Finance and Organisational Development Lead) informed the Committee that there was a freeze last year and the year before was a 5% cut so things are in an amazingly good place, despite the Government austerity. He stated that it has been quite clear that the region has been targeted for more cuts than any other region across the UK and that money has been moved away Metropolitan Councils to “Shires” owned by Conservative Governments. He commended the proposed budget to the Committee and thanked the officers for working so diligently to set the budget and produce the papers.
John Fogarty informed the Committee that there were no planned changes and that Merseytravel needed to make routes more viable and more attractive to commercial operators and to develop a strategy to support the bus network to get more people to use the routes.
Gary Evans informed the Committee that the Mersey Ferries Charter produced about 4/5 years ago established a single charge, but year on year there has been an increase in line with inflation. There has been a huge growth over the time in the cruise programme and work was underway to develop more programmes to bring to market. Own programmes have significantly increased.
The Chair, Councillor Robinson stated that there were challenging budgetary times and any fares increase was never popular, but it was still cheaper than Stagecoach and Arriva. Officers would be looking at the bus station departure charges and would be bringing back proposals to the Committee for an increase in charges at a future meeting. He thanked both John Fogarty and Sarah Johnston for their hard work in pulling the budget together in such an easy to digest format, which was open and transparent and honest to the public and also thanked officers for managing much of the reduction in the back office having to make some difficult decisions.
The Transport Committee unanimously agreed the following recommendations including a revised version of Appendix C that was tabled at the meeting and as appended to these minutes: -
RESOLVED that the Transport Committee: -
a) requests Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to approve 2019/20 operating grants for both public transport and Mersey Tunnels operating activities as detailed in section 4 of the report;
b) approves the fare/ price increases included within the report and, subject to approval, seek that the financial implications of these fare increases are included within the draft budget for 2019/20; and
c) approves the Capital Programme as detailed in Section 4 of the report.