This week we have learnt that the hard work has paid off and soon NOW card holders will be able to access the trams into Blackpool once again! This time last year I was campaigning to be your MP and I said one of my top priorities was campaigning to get pensioners and people with disabilities back on the trams with the NOW cards – so I am delighted that it’s down to Fleetwood Labour that this has been possible.
The cuts from the Coalition government back in April 2014 saw Blackpool Council have to make savings which included not subsidising Wyre traveller's NOW Cards. Lancashire County Council are facing huge cuts and have tried to strike a deal with Wyre Borough Council to allow Wyre pensioners back on the trams but no deal was ever reached. I always felt this was particularly unfair to the Fleetwood travellers who put up with years of disruption when the tram was upgraded – with Lord Street being ripped up twice.
I raised the issue in Parliament directly to the Prime Minister as I think much of the difficulties stem from the tram crossing two council areas. In the end it was not a solution through Parliament which has delivered the goods – but one made between Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council. The deal will see Lancashire County Council continue to fund the track maintenance of £314,000, and in return Blackpool Council will accept concessionary travel from April this year.
This deal was not an easy one to reach but Fleetwood Labour councillor Lorraine Beavers has been working away at this quietly behind the scenes for many months now and it’s great that she’s seen this deal delivered in the Budget vote this week. It was disappointing to see all the Conservative councillors vote against this at the council meeting but thank you Lorraine for doing our town proud and not giving up.