View from Westminster

One of my regular mailbag issues is that of the performance of local buses and, in particular, Diamond Bus. Let’s not beat about the bush here: the burnt-out wreck of a Diamond Bus is a surprisingly frequent sight around Wyre Forest when you consider you should never see the burnt-out wreck of any public service vehicle. To be clear, the complaints range from the county council cutting some bus routes, to the regularity and timeliness of busses. But when it comes to Diamond Bus, the complaints are frequently about the quality of the vehicles themselves.

Heaters do not work in the winter; I hear items such as speedometers don’t work on all busses; they frequently break down; they sometimes catch fire. As far as I know, there have been no injuries (although if anyone knows of one, please do get in touch). But that is not the point: Diamond Bus is a by-word for, frankly, lousy service.

We in Wyre Forest are not alone in thinking this. It now appears that the Traffic Commissioner thinks there is cause for concern with regard Diamond Bus and is launching a public enquiry into their performance. This is a big deal and comes after considerable pressure from users. Indeed, I have been liaising with Bus Users UK, a consumer representation group, for some time. This included a meeting for local service users with local bus companies that Bus Users UK and my office organised last year. It was an opportunity to push for better services, but it seems these pleas fell on deaf ears as far as Diamond are concerned. It is quite right that this issue has gone as far as the Traffic Commissioner.

The powers of the commissioner are wide and can result in operators’ licenses being revoked. That will, potentially, close poor operators and that is quite right. After all, it may be that we have been very lucky here in Wyre Forest that there have not been any serious accidents. That is for the Traffic Commissioner to determine and the process must be allowed to run in a proper way. The enquiry will be heard at Wyre Forest House on the Stourport Road on the 21st June, from 10 AM.

This is an important local issue for many people. We have every right to expect a proper and safe service. The Transport Commissioner will decide on Diamond’s future.