Changes to travel passes for Sutton pensioners - 5.01.10
Sutton Council is urging the over-sixties to renew their Freedom Pass in the New Year and continue to take advantage of free travel.
All current passes, which allow residents to use London's buses, trains, trams and Tubes without charge, will expire on 31 March 2010 and residents must update their pass before this date.
Freedom pass holders will soon be receiving a letter with details of when to visit their local library, one-stop-shop or civic centre to have their new cards processed. The council has arranged additional staff to help cope with the number of applicants as well as installing several new photo booths in civic buildings.
The changes are taking place in every London borough to bring the passes up to date following a national revision of the Bus Travel Act in 2008. The revision which came in to place in April 2008 allows Freedom Pass holders to use local bus services across the country at no extra charge.
The London Freedom Pass, paid for by councils in the capital and the Government, is the most comprehensive concessionary fares scheme in the country.
However, a recent government decision to consider reducing Freedom Pass grants has enraged Sutton Council and it has vowed to lobby against any change.
It fears local taxpayers could be hit with an additional bill of £1m a year to keep provide free public transport to the over 60s and disabled people.
In 2008 the Government announced a three-year funding package to help councils cover the cost of the Freedom Pass scheme. But the Minister for Transport, Sadiq Khan, announced that he was reopening the consultation on the last year of the funding settlement, which could see Sutton lose half of its funding with the money transferred to councils elsewhere.
Cllr Colin Hall, Executive Member for Environment on Sutton Council, said: "The Freedom Pass helps older and disabled people to live as independently as possible. I urge all pass holders to ensure they renew their passes well ahead of 31 March.
"The Government's decision to reconsider the funding they give for the Freedom Pass, despite repeated reassurances that the current three-year settlement would be honoured, is outrageous"
"We have made a promise to residents that there will be no council tax rise in Sutton next year. As we have budgeted to receive the funding for the Freedom Pass a cut would hit us hard, especially in this economic climate when there are many financial pressures."
Last updated: Monday, 12 April 2010