Scarborough and Whitby miss out on bus funding as Government rejects £116m North Yorkshire bid

The Scarborough and Whitby area has missed out on millions of pounds to transform bus services after a funding bid from North Yorkshire County Council was rejected by the government.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 10:14 am

The county council bid for £116m to invest in services across North Yorkshire - but the government has now announced it won’t get any funding.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at the county council, previously said while it was unlikely the county would get “anything near” the full amount it bid for from the Bus Back Better scheme, he was confident that some cash would come to North Yorkshire.

But he has since expressed his surprise and disappointment at yesterday’s announcement that North Yorkshire won’t get any financial support.

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Coastliner bus at Goathland, near Whitby.

“We knew the Bus Back Better budget had been severely curtailed… but I expected to get some money, not nothing at all, so I’m very disappointed,” Cllr Mackenzie said.

The government claimed areas that failed to get the cash had not shown “sufficient ambition”.

In total, just 34 of 79 areas which applied were successful.

In Yorkshire, this included the West Yorkshire Combined Authority which submitted a bid for £168m, but was given £70m, while City of York Council wanted £48m and got £17.4m.

Cllr Mackenzie said he believed the plans for North Yorkshire were ambitious enough to win funding and that he was now keen to speak to government officials to understand their decision.

“I don’t think our plans lacked ambition,” he said.

“They were worth £116m over eight years – that doesn’t lack ambition or aspiration.

“Until such time we have spoken to ministers or senior civil servants, I can’t say exactly what was lacking from our submission.”

Cllr Mackenzie also said parts of the county’s Bus Service Improvement Plan could still go ahead without government support, including an expansion of the on-demand bus service, YorBus, which is being trialled in Ripon, Bedale and Masham.

He also said a park and ride pilot scheme for Harrogate was still possible, although questions remained about how a permanent service would be funded.

He added: “One of the things in our Bus Service Improvement Plan was to expand the on-demand response service, YorBus, and of course that pilot continues.

“If it continues to be successful, we will roll it out in other areas.

“We will also continue to work in close partnership with bus operators.”

The Bus Service Improvement Plan included £23m for new bus lanes, £74m for other infrastructure changes and £14m for support for bus services.