In an exclusive interview with Passenger Transport, former transport minister Norman Baker expresses his fears for buses



Chancellor George Osborne is treating buses as a pawn to be sacrificed for his own political advantage, according to Norman Baker, his former coalition colleague.

Baker made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Passenger Transport to co-incide with the publication of his memoirs. The ousted Lib Dem MP, who served three years as a minister at the Department for Transport under the last government, expressed concern at the “pretty terrible” direction in which bus policy has headed since last May’s Tory election victory. He says Osborne was wrong to include powers to permit bus franchising in the Treasury’s new devolution deals for Greater Manchester and Cornwall, while inviting other areas to bid for the same powers.

“I am concerned about the fact that [bus policy is] being used as a plaything by the chancellor for other purposes,” he said. “Bus policy is not about buses, it’s about scoring points off Labour or getting Tory votes in the North or whatever it happens to be – buses are almost irrelevant in that, they’re just something to shove across a table as a manoeuvre.”

He added: “I think the game plan is to hand over [buses] to local authorities and then cut all the funding.”

This full interview with Norman Baker appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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