SLOUGH Council’s plan that cost £80k to improve bus services in the town “should be revised,” a backbencher said.

Last week, senior councillors agreed to set up an enhanced partnership with bus operators to formalise ideas on how to improve the service and create a ‘London style’ service in the borough.

This could include adding new routes and improving bus journey time reliability as well as cheaper ticket offers, introducing a multi-operator ticketing scheme, and better bus passenger information.

Despite creating a bus lane on the A4 to facilitate the changes, the council’s £54m ideas were rejected by the government. It has entered an enhanced partnership with the operators to try and find other grants or sources of funding to bring its vision to fruition.

READ MORE: Aldi looks for location for new Slough store

The Department for Transport (DfT) gave the council £150,000 to create a plan. Officers only spent £80,000 of this money on consultants and interim staff. The remaining sum will be used to devise future ideas.

“It has been an expensive process to put together a very formal technical document that will satisfy the DfT,” said Eddie Hewitt, principal transport strategy officer, at a place scrutiny meeting.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, June 28, Cllr Gurdeep S. Grewal (Lab: Upton) said the plan “needs to be revised” and it’s a “stab in the dark” as it is “assuming” it will get funding with this partnership, although it is not guaranteed.

He said: “It [the plan] has many holes. I don’t think it gives the full picture or reflect the reality as it doesn’t give any facts or figures into pollution levels.

Slough Observer: Cllr Gurdeep S. GrewalCllr Gurdeep S. Grewal

“Expected usage of 20 per cent in three years is, I think, a bit too optimistic because we haven’t been able to achieve it in the last 10 to 15 years and I don’t know how we’re going to achieve it in the next three years.

“I don’t think this document should be submitted in its current state, even though it has been approved by the cabinet. It should be revised in accordance to give more detailed facts and figures etc.”

Transport officers say without an enhanced partnership, the council will have “zero chance” of getting funding as it shows Slough is ‘not serious’ about improving the bus services. They also say the document has been reviewed at “every level” within the council and with the transport commissioner.

Slough Observer: Cllr Mohammed NazirCllr Mohammed Nazir

Cllr Mohammed Nazir (Lab: Baylis & Stoke), lead member for transport, said the partnership is for the council and bus operators to work together to improve the services and to hold the operators to account.

He said: “We’ve had more ownership of cars in Slough than anywhere else, and you can tell by the parking issues we have in every ward.

READ MORE: Census 2021: Slough has second-highest youth population

“We want to have a modal shift of people and we can only do that when we can hold the operators who operate in Slough to account.”

Members also called the meeting a “waste of time” as they were recommended to note the report and felt they could not recommend suggestions to cabinet as senior councillors already approved the plan and no changes could be made to the strategy as it was going to be submitted next weeks.

Officers say councillors can scrutinise future plans when developed to hear their views on the scheme.