Liberal Democrat controlled Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils have stepped up to provide much needed funding to the ReadiBus service, following its ongoing dispute with the Conservative controlled West Berkshire Council.
ReadiBus, a service that provides transport for those in West Berkshire who would otherwise struggle to move around independently, has recently had its funding withheld by West Berkshire Council following its refusal to sign a contract that includes what many see as a "gagging clause", restricting its ability to speak out again future budget cuts by the Conservative administration of the Council.
The Liberal Democrat controlled Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils have both committed £1000 to support the service, which will be matched by the Good Exchange to meet the £4000 target that ReadiBus require to run a 2 day a week service for the remainder of 2021.
The Liberal Democrats are now calling on the Conservative administration of West Berkshire Council to restore the funding they provided to ReadiBus so that the service can resume operating every day of the week, and are urging members of the public to join over 1000 others in signing the petition to the Council on this matter.
Cllr Martin Colston, leader of the Liberal Democrat controlled Newbury Town Council, said:
"I am delighted that we have been able to provide some short-term support to help keep ReadiBus running. For the last 25 years they have been providing a vital service for many in need. I call on West Berkshire Council to review their short-sighted decision and reinstate full funding for the long term.”
Cllr David Lister, leader of the Liberal Democrat controlled Thatcham Town Council, said:
"The ReadiBus delivered an essential service throughout the covid pandemic, and it is important that those users who rely on it now know this valued service will still be available. West Berkshire Council now need to step up and reverse the decision that put ReadiBus under threat."
Cllr Lee Dillon, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on West Berkshire Council, said:
"This commitment from the Liberal Democrat controlled Town Councils will ensure that the ReadiBus can stay on the road in our area, and shows the real difference that having a Liberal Democrat controlled council can make to people's lives. In contrast the Conservative administration of West Berkshire Council have once again let residents down. My colleagues and I will keep making the case that the Conservatives should reverse their decision on ReadiBus and ensure that this service remains available to those who need it when they need it for the long term, and I urge those who support our cause to join the thousand others and sign our petition to the Council on this matter."
Professor Sophia Bowlby, Chair of the ReadiBus Board of Trustees, said:
"We are very grateful for these donations from Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils to our Good Exchange project. I am sure it will be warmly welcomed by our passengers."