Kim McGuiness calls for end of Go North East strikes

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Kim McGuiness, current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and Labour candidate for the newly created North East Mayoral Combined Authority, has called up the recently appointed Minister for Roads and Local Transport, Guy Opperman, to help end the Go North East bus strikes.

McGuiness called upon Opperman, who represents the Hexham constituency north of Newcastle, soon after his recent appointment as Minister for Roads and Local Transport in the cabinet reshuffle. Last month the Government claimed that rather than using funds, totalling millions of pounds, for a High-Speed Rail project, it instead would use it to extend the £2 bus fare through the end of 2024. As of writing, the Government has given bus firms in excess of £600m on top of funds given to bus firms through local councils for subsides and additional buses.

Despite not offering a full public service, only a skeleton service and contracted school services, Go North East are still receiving millions of pounds from the Government, a move that McGuiness called “economic madness.” She is calling on Opperman, as well as the wider Government, to use its financial leverage to help bring an end to the strike as otherwise many people across the North East may be denied access to shops, family and other amenities throughout the Christmas season and beyond. She said that in his role at the Department for Transport, “Guy has a unique position of influence that no one hit by this strike can share.”

“Economic madness”

Kim McGuinness

Drivers, engineers and other staff for Go North East, a regional bus service, are currently striking over a dispute regarding pay and working conditions. They began an indefinite walkout on October 28, following a smaller two-week strike prior, after union members voted against the offered 10.3% pay rise in September.

McGuiness further criticised the Government for handing bus firms “millions of pounds in public funds,” for a “service that doesn’t exist.” Continuing to say that the Opperman needs to “pick up the phone to Go North East and demand an end to the disruption hitting families across our region.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said that: “While this is a matter for industry to resolve, we expect bus companies to ease the impact on passengers. More widely, we’re putting more than £170m into bus services in the North East over the next few years.”

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