“Terribly frustrated” at lack of coach support – Grahame Morris MP
Speaking to Bus and Coach Buyer, the MP who spearheaded the recent Government debate on coach support, Grahame Morris, has expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of support for the coach sector during the coronavirus crisis.
Commenting on last week’s debate at Westminster Hall, Grahame said: “I thought it was a good debate, it was lively. There was clear cross-party support for the coach industry.”
“There was clear cross-party support for the coach industry” – Grahame Morris
On Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Rachel Maclean’s comments during the debate, Grahame said he was disappointed at her lack of support announced during the debate. He said: “I don’t think Rachel Maclean has heard the issues of the coach sector. There were some inconsistencies in what she said. She did not acknowledge 80% of coach operator applicants were unable to access the business support.”
Grahame added: “We ask the question of the competence of DfT, when much smaller departments are able to secure funding, like the £1.5bn for the hospitality and tourism sector, while DfT has been unable to help the coach industry.
“Another area of concern, and this is reinforced by reports from coach operators, is that we could see publicly subsidised bus companies mopping up a number of the last remaining contracts, work that was previously reserved for the coach sector. This is going to push coach companies out of business.”
“Another area of concern, and this is reinforced by reports from coach operators, is that we could see publicly subsidised bus companies mopping up a number of the last remaining contracts”
“Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have had sector specific help, but that has not been replicated in England. That’s what we are looking for.
“From my perspective, we will continue asking the question. Labour is calling for support and recognition for the commitment of coach operators with investing in cleaner, greener coaches. Unlike other sectors, they cannot operate a take-away service or operate another way. Operators need some good cheer at Christmas. We hope the Government will make some announcement.
“We will simply keep asking the question and putting the pressure on the Minister. It is in their hands to respond.
“I’m terribly frustrated at the lack of action on this.”
“I’m terribly frustrated at the lack of action on this”
During the debate, it was noted that in recent months MPs had began hearing from coach operators, which they had not experienced before. Commenting on this, Grahame said: “They just crack on with their business. It’s not like they are constantly demanding resources. They are a valuable part of the community. If they collapse, it will have a huge impact on other sectors. Hospitality relies incredibly on them. It will have huge longer term impacts.”
Why is the Government not supporting the coach sector in England? Grahame said: “I don’t know if they think it is not urgent. But it’s a key element of the transport network. I am not sure whether they think the national bus companies and big players will step in.
“The penny has dropped in Scotland and Wales. We are not talking about huge amounts of money here. We are talking about rather modest amounts.”
The CPT is to send a letter to Rachel Maclean, encouraging her to join the industry in making the case for support within Government. Any operator interested in signing the letter is encouraged to email [email protected] with their name and the operator they are signing on behalf of.