Wiltshire Council defends free staff bus service

Wiltshire Times: The Wiltshire Council minibus waiting at Trowbridge railway station, one of the pick-up points, to take staff to its Shurnhold offices The Wiltshire Council minibus waiting at Trowbridge railway station, one of the pick-up points, to take staff to its Shurnhold offices

Wiltshire Council has defended the £38,000-a-year ‘taxi’ service it runs for staff between County Hall in Trowbridge and Shurnhold in Melksham.

For around two years, a council minibus has been making 10 each-way journeys daily between Bradley Road, Trowbridge, and the Melksham offices, collecting staff along the way.

The service was brought to the Wiltshire Times’ attention by businessman Paul Jones, who spotted the bus waiting at Trowbridge Train Station to pick up Wiltshire Council employees on Tuesday morning.

Mr Jones, who runs Arke Limited, based at Heywood House, said: “I discovered it was taxi-ing staff to work. Why should the taxpayer have to cover to this?”

The bus, which costs roughly £150 to run per day and around £38,000 per year, was agreed by the council with its staff as part of their ‘temporary relocation package’ when workers moved offices while £22m worth of improvements are made to County Hall.

Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said: “As part of our transformation programme we asked some staff to work in Melksham.

“We knew some of them wouldn’t have easily been able to get to there, so we provided a minibus.”

Yesterday morning, during the bus’ first trip of the day, it only carried five people with a possible 16 seats available.

The car park at the council’s Bradley Road offices was empty, with a council spokes-man claiming the bus also aimed to encourage staff not to park at County Hall.

Wiltshire Councillor Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for transformation, culture, leisure and libraries, said: “We are updating our offices at County Hall and with the loss of desks we opened the offices in Melksham in the meantime.

"The minibus is a way of getting people backwards and forwards for meetings in Trowbridge and personally I think it’s useful system.

“If we have got people working between 8am-6pm I don’t think 10 trips a day is all that much.”

In recent years Wiltshire Council has cut funding for local charity organisations and some believe the £38,000 should be spent elsewhere.

Amanda Wilkes, service manager for Trowbridge-based HELP counselling services, said: “I think the idea to reduce the number of cars on the road is good, but when charities like ours have been appealing for funding this seems a lot of money for the council to be spending.”

Comments (15)

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11:34am Fri 15 Mar 13

sirroms says...

Why the hell are we paying for this????

What other covert services are we paying for????
Why the hell are we paying for this???? What other covert services are we paying for???? sirroms

1:32pm Fri 15 Mar 13

Jungleist says...

Sounds perfectly reasonable. If staff normally work in one location but are then expected to work in another is that not a change to their contract? Plenty of private firms I know pay their employees more or pay for rail fares/bus fares if they ask them to work from another base.
Sounds perfectly reasonable. If staff normally work in one location but are then expected to work in another is that not a change to their contract? Plenty of private firms I know pay their employees more or pay for rail fares/bus fares if they ask them to work from another base. Jungleist

5:50pm Fri 15 Mar 13

JemmaWilliams says...

I am disgusted that this story has made the front page of the paper this week when far more serious issues are at hand. Firstly, it's not uncommon for an employer to offer a relocation package to staff to compensate them for having to travel a considerable amount further to do their job. Secondly, it would cost more to pay travel expenses for those driving and an inconvenience for those needing to take public transport. Do we expect staff to pay these additional costs which surely would not have been expected when they took on their roles. I am not biased the council and regularly criticise them for their inefficiencies but I feel this should not be taking front page news.

Referring to far more serious issues, I see that the unfortunate story regarding a school boy taking his own life was featured on page *22*. SURELY this merits front page news considering this is a life and self harm, be it cutting or death, is on the increase all over the country with several completed suicides in our county town within the last few years.

The mental health of our future generation is worthy of such attention, not sensationalist stories of a relatively small sum of money or indeed a lingerie article on page 13 to name another.

I am shocked. Anyone agree?
I am disgusted that this story has made the front page of the paper this week when far more serious issues are at hand. Firstly, it's not uncommon for an employer to offer a relocation package to staff to compensate them for having to travel a considerable amount further to do their job. Secondly, it would cost more to pay travel expenses for those driving and an inconvenience for those needing to take public transport. Do we expect staff to pay these additional costs which surely would not have been expected when they took on their roles. I am not biased the council and regularly criticise them for their inefficiencies but I feel this should not be taking front page news. Referring to far more serious issues, I see that the unfortunate story regarding a school boy taking his own life was featured on page *22*. SURELY this merits front page news considering this is a life and self harm, be it cutting or death, is on the increase all over the country with several completed suicides in our county town within the last few years. The mental health of our future generation is worthy of such attention, not sensationalist stories of a relatively small sum of money or indeed a lingerie article on page 13 to name another. I am shocked. Anyone agree? JemmaWilliams

12:29am Sat 16 Mar 13

beetawix says...

I don't like to stir things up further but I beleive that the council have been providing free toilet facilities for staff for generations.
I don't like to stir things up further but I beleive that the council have been providing free toilet facilities for staff for generations. beetawix

12:57am Sat 16 Mar 13

beetawix says...

There is nothing unusual about these transport arrangements in the circumstances. For this to be 'discovered' by a 'business' man and then reported by the Wiltshire Times is both surprising and provocative.
There is nothing unusual about these transport arrangements in the circumstances. For this to be 'discovered' by a 'business' man and then reported by the Wiltshire Times is both surprising and provocative. beetawix

1:02am Sat 16 Mar 13

moonrakin wurzel says...

Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW!
Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW! moonrakin wurzel

1:58am Sat 16 Mar 13

beetawix says...

moonrakin wurzel wrote:
Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW!
display what on council car parks?
[quote][p][bold]moonrakin wurzel[/bold] wrote: Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW![/p][/quote]display what on council car parks? beetawix

9:17am Sat 16 Mar 13

notscot says...

moonrakin wurzel wrote:
Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW!
They already are.
[quote][p][bold]moonrakin wurzel[/bold] wrote: Pay and Display on the council car parks NOW![/p][/quote]They already are. notscot

11:12am Sat 16 Mar 13

brasstacks says...

Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this.
What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money".
Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire.
They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment.
Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ?
They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing.
Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this. What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money". Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire. They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment. Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ? They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing. brasstacks

11:17am Sat 16 Mar 13

old 'arry says...

brasstacks wrote:
Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this.
What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money".
Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire.
They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment.
Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ?
They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing.
You could just as well ask why taxpayers' money should go to providing social housing. If you can't work to support a partner or children, then don't have either. I prefer to support the minibus rather than idle layabouts.
[quote][p][bold]brasstacks[/bold] wrote: Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this. What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money". Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire. They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment. Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ? They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing.[/p][/quote]You could just as well ask why taxpayers' money should go to providing social housing. If you can't work to support a partner or children, then don't have either. I prefer to support the minibus rather than idle layabouts. old 'arry

11:22am Sat 16 Mar 13

Mrs Mint says...

No story here. As others have rightly pointed out, if an employer moves people to another base, it is normal for them to fund the travel expenses. Thus the mini bus scheme if probably saving the Council money, and helping to ease traffic conjestion too.
No story here. As others have rightly pointed out, if an employer moves people to another base, it is normal for them to fund the travel expenses. Thus the mini bus scheme if probably saving the Council money, and helping to ease traffic conjestion too. Mrs Mint

11:48am Sat 16 Mar 13

brasstacks says...

With respect, Tax Payers money does not just go towards Social Housing.
Tax Payers money goes toward funding MP's Expenses (2nd Homes with no apparent under occupation charge )
There are many people living in Social Housing who do have Jobs and equally there are many people in Social Housing who are unable to Work because they are genuinely sick and or disabled and who have also paid their Taxes in their lives which gives them a fundamental Right and Legal Entitlement to Housing and Benefit support.
The Government keeps on about the need for more Housing but what it is funding is the building of Homes that are being funded by the Tax Payer and are not Social Housing.
If you are concerned about how many Social Rent Homes have been built in Wiltshire look at the Statistics and remember that Fate & Destiny does not always allow a former Home Owner to keep their Home on which they have paid their Taxes.
The Mini Bus is a sensible idea but not if it is ferrying around the Agency Staff that Wilts Council are employing because they have made Staff cuts to pay for their Over Spending.
In December 2012, Wilts Council showed Expenditure figures for Agency Staff in excess of £600,000.
I feel really sorry for the Staff "let go" who are seeing their Jobs go straight to Agency Staff who cost the Tax Payer more money.
With respect, Tax Payers money does not just go towards Social Housing. Tax Payers money goes toward funding MP's Expenses (2nd Homes with no apparent under occupation charge ) There are many people living in Social Housing who do have Jobs and equally there are many people in Social Housing who are unable to Work because they are genuinely sick and or disabled and who have also paid their Taxes in their lives which gives them a fundamental Right and Legal Entitlement to Housing and Benefit support. The Government keeps on about the need for more Housing but what it is funding is the building of Homes that are being funded by the Tax Payer and are not Social Housing. If you are concerned about how many Social Rent Homes have been built in Wiltshire look at the Statistics and remember that Fate & Destiny does not always allow a former Home Owner to keep their Home on which they have paid their Taxes. The Mini Bus is a sensible idea but not if it is ferrying around the Agency Staff that Wilts Council are employing because they have made Staff cuts to pay for their Over Spending. In December 2012, Wilts Council showed Expenditure figures for Agency Staff in excess of £600,000. I feel really sorry for the Staff "let go" who are seeing their Jobs go straight to Agency Staff who cost the Tax Payer more money. brasstacks

11:49am Sat 16 Mar 13

notscot says...

old 'arry wrote:
brasstacks wrote:
Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this.
What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money".
Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire.
They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment.
Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ?
They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing.
You could just as well ask why taxpayers' money should go to providing social housing. If you can't work to support a partner or children, then don't have either. I prefer to support the minibus rather than idle layabouts.
If you really think that only layabouts require affodable housing - you're either an idiot or an ostrich.
Why DO you think - in the pre-Maggie era - there was such a lot of social (council) housing?
Because it was NEEDED.
The majority of the workforce DON'T have high-paying jobs. Most families where both parents work don't do so for luxuries - they do so to make ends meet. Hundreds of thousands of families in receipt of housing benefits AREN'T in receipt of unemployment benefits - they're working families on low incomes. And THEY pay the taxes that support our country.
And the private rental market isn't either affordable or available at the level required.
Seems like we're just going to have to accept - our kids will be in their 40's before they can afford to leave home.
[quote][p][bold]old 'arry[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]brasstacks[/bold] wrote: Providing staff transport is not the issue because many employers do this. What is more questionable is how many Agency staff Wiltshire Council are employing each month to cover the Staff that they have 'let go" in order to "save money". Wilts Council are not saving money for the Tax Payers of Wiltshire. They are "moving around" Budgets given them by Central Government because they have over spent on Political Aesthetics aka the New County Hall building and its refurbishment. Are they paying for the Mini Bus out of the Profits that they are making from selling Affordable Homes ? They certainly are not spending much money on providing Social Housing.[/p][/quote]You could just as well ask why taxpayers' money should go to providing social housing. If you can't work to support a partner or children, then don't have either. I prefer to support the minibus rather than idle layabouts.[/p][/quote]If you really think that only layabouts require affodable housing - you're either an idiot or an ostrich. Why DO you think - in the pre-Maggie era - there was such a lot of social (council) housing? Because it was NEEDED. The majority of the workforce DON'T have high-paying jobs. Most families where both parents work don't do so for luxuries - they do so to make ends meet. Hundreds of thousands of families in receipt of housing benefits AREN'T in receipt of unemployment benefits - they're working families on low incomes. And THEY pay the taxes that support our country. And the private rental market isn't either affordable or available at the level required. Seems like we're just going to have to accept - our kids will be in their 40's before they can afford to leave home. notscot

12:08pm Sat 16 Mar 13

brasstacks says...

The Social Security Act, Housing and Social Housing Act is there to support everyone whether they are in work, unemployed and either own their own Home or Rent it.
The National Minimum Wage is an insult and a mockery to those who do Work and forcing people out of Social Rented Homes they so called "under occupy" is going to put more of a financial strain on Tax Payers money because Private Rented Homes are more expensive.
"Affordable Housing" under the Governments scheme is way out of most peoples budgets whether they are working, sick and disabled or "a layabout"....
These Schemes are being funded by Central Government and are costing Tax Payers money which is being used to fund what can only be described as "local government Real estate".
This money comes from Budgets that are now being Politically administered Locally and it is time to stop moving around money for Political "brownie points and image" and to remember that Housing Support is everyones Right whether you are in Work or not.
The Social Security Act, Housing and Social Housing Act is there to support everyone whether they are in work, unemployed and either own their own Home or Rent it. The National Minimum Wage is an insult and a mockery to those who do Work and forcing people out of Social Rented Homes they so called "under occupy" is going to put more of a financial strain on Tax Payers money because Private Rented Homes are more expensive. "Affordable Housing" under the Governments scheme is way out of most peoples budgets whether they are working, sick and disabled or "a layabout".... These Schemes are being funded by Central Government and are costing Tax Payers money which is being used to fund what can only be described as "local government Real estate". This money comes from Budgets that are now being Politically administered Locally and it is time to stop moving around money for Political "brownie points and image" and to remember that Housing Support is everyones Right whether you are in Work or not. brasstacks

10:21pm Tue 19 Mar 13

yeold6x says...

Moreover why was tax payers money used to pay for a head teachers affair after it went sour?

And why was he vindicated by the governers?
Moreover why was tax payers money used to pay for a head teachers affair after it went sour? And why was he vindicated by the governers? yeold6x

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