Birmingham hits at PTA system
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AND THESE ARE MoT's ANSWERS. . .
from our political correspondent (2)
• Seven criticisms of the proposed PTA system have been sent to the Ministry of Transport by Birmingham City Council. The complaints, with answers from Mr. Bob Brown (Parliamentary Secretary) are: (1) PTAs should be appointed wholly by A: local authorities. The Minister should not appoint members who are not answerable either to a local council or the electorate.
A: The Minister wants powers to appoint a small minority of members because (3)
there is no guarantee that otherwise the Authorities will have "an optimum balance of knowledge and experience". The Minister wants to plug the gaps. Precepts on local rates could be used to avoid fare increases, or transfer rail burdens to local councils. It is incongruous to give Government aid to rates and then allow PTAs to precept new burdens over which local councils cannot exercise judgment as to priority.
PTAs will have an overwhelming number of local authority members on them, who will not lightly put up their own rates. There appears to be no answer to the question of assessing priorities until local government is reorganized.
The railways should not be paid by PTAs to keep open uneconomic ser vices. There is no provision for sirnil payments to PTAs for unecononr bus services which cope with r closures. Each transport service shot shoulder its own losses.
A: PTAs will take all the decisions cc cerning bus and rail in their areas, it is right they should carry thefinanc, responsibilities.
(4) Authorities which hand over bus unch takings free from debt should be co, pensated to put them on equal footi with those who hand over with a del Otherwise, fare payers or ratepayers a district whose fares have been realis will have to fork out again to pay t A: The transfer facilities in the Transport A: Bill are those which normally apply in the public sector. There appears to be no reason to depart from "customary practice".
(5) Any land transferred which a PTA later does not want should be handed back on the same terms (i.e., with only the original debt, if any, to be paid).
A: Local authorities would have first option on surplus land, but at market value. Such land would have originally been bought for the transport underA: taking; if rationalization makes it surplus, the whole area covered by the PTA should benefit to the full.
(6) It is unfair that PTAs should compete in the provision of vehicle hire, refreshment services, car parks, petrol, oil, spare parts and repairs with private firms who will be called on to meet the deficiencies
of PTAs through rates and taxes.
It will be entirelyfor individual Authorities and Executives to decide the extent to which they want to use these powers. The Bill has safeguards against unfair competition.
An independent tribunal—not the Minister or the chairman of the Traffic Commissioners—should arbitrate on disputes between PTAs and local councils over payments to be made for travel concessions.
The chairman (in respect of road services) and the Minister (in respect of rail) will act quasi-judicially in determining disputes. This kind ofprovision is made in many other cases throughout transport legislation, and "We have-no reason to suppose this system will not work perfectly satisfactorily in this case".