Councillor Ade Adeyemo has called on Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, to conduct a review of the recent 'East Birmingham and North Solihull Consultation’ carried out by National Express West Midlands (NXWM), in collaboration with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM)
Commenting on the proposed changes to bus services in Solihull, Councillor Adeyemo said, "Several residents in my ward (Lyndon) have complained about the manner in which the consultation was handled.
'Firstly, the consultation was advertised as 'East Birmingham and North Solihull', with a 'public stakeholder session' arranged in Kingshurst. In fact, a whole raft of changes is proposed to bus services in the south of the borough. Most of these changes were not well publicised and many bus users will not be aware of the changes until they come into force at the beginning of September.
"Secondly, I am particularly concerned that NXWM published new timetables for the routes being consulted upon before having the opportunity to review consultation responses. What is the point in holding a consultation when the 'result' has been pre-determined?
"Finally, why was the consultation held in the middle of the holiday period? Surely, both NXWM and TfWM would know that holding such a consultation during the holiday period, when a lot of bus users are away, would exclude most from the consultation!
"This so-called consultation has been a massive waste of everyone's time! Ultimately this sham of a consultation only serves to erode what little faith Solihull's bus users have in National Express West Midlands (NXWM) and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).
"It is for all of the above reasons that I have written to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, expressing my concern about the way in which this consultation has been carried out. This is happening on Mr Street's watch and he should be just as concerned as I am about the shabby way that NXWM and TfWM are treating the residents of Solihull. I hope that The Mayor will now conduct an urgent review of how this consultation was carried out as well as the suitability and efficiency of bus services in Solihull.
"Over the past few years, we have seen changes to bus services pushed through with scant regard for the needs of bus users in Solihull. Changes have included alterations to bus routes and timetables and in some cases, outright cancellation of routes that local people have come to rely upon. Changes to bus routes also have a disproportionate impact on elderly, disabled and visually-impaired users.
Councillor Adeyemo was also critical of Conservative-led Solihull Council, which he has accused of "Sitting back and being passive whilst bus companies play fast and loose with routes that local residents rely on.
"Routes have been changed, the numbers of buses per hour have been reduced and some services have been stopped altogether, all in the name of 'efficiency savings'. In the meantime, bus users in Solihull are having to endure longer waits for buses to arrive.
"Solihull Council is supposed to be working in partnership with TfWM and the bus operators. However, it is rare that anything is ever done when bus operators cut or make major changes to essential routes. Standing by and 'allowing' the former 37 bus service (now Number 4) to bypass the critical Olton Station transport hub is a glaring example of this inaction. Right now, the bus operators call the shots, to the detriment of local residents.
"Solihull deserves better. We demand better"!