What will *you* do in response to the Stagecoach Cambs Bus Crisis?

Many of you will have seen the front pages on paper or online. For those of you not affected directly, What’s the one small action or one small one off behaviour change you could take in response to a crisis that will affect many people on low incomes who live outside of our city?

It was the leading item in this week’s Cambridge Independent.

Note we still don’t know (as of 11.40am on 21 Sept 2022) what the new Minister of State portfolios are at the Department for Transport – which includes SECambs MP Lucy Frazer, whose constituents are clobbered by this announcement by Stagecoach East.

At the moment it’s left to Baroness Vere to be the ministerial policy lead in the Lords. I wrote about her evidence session on transport including trams and light rail here.

Doing nothing guarantees that nothing will happen in return

People dependent on the services being cut will be compelled to do something – especially those with children/teenagers dependent on using the buses to get to school/college.

I can’t pretend any of the following will have an impact, but there are the following that are worth sharing with people who have never contacted someone in politics / elected public office – who tend to get more of a hearing when they contact elected representatives independent of a large, organised, and branded campaign (eg 38-degrees style) – especially when they describe the impact such things have on them and their families/community:

Email your local councillors and local MP – ***with specific requests on your behalf***

See https://www.writetothem.com/ and type in your postcode. In order to get a meaningful response that gets your elected representatives to do something (I used to draft the responses for ministers to such correspondence in my civil service days – which they had to read and sign off in their names), consider the following:

  • Explain how you are directly affected by the issue – eg bus service cuts or simply the lack of bus services in the first place
  • Ask your councillors/MP what their policies are on this issue and what actions they have taken as a result
  • Ask your councillor to contact The Mayor, and ask your MP to contact the Minister responsible for in Government what actions they will take to resolve this issue.

In the case of MPs and Ministers, these are routine and basic core activities. It is the least you can expect from your MP. MPs represent everyone in their constituency irrespective of status – age, citizenship, voting status, even your own personal political views. MPs are responsible to their constituents, and Ministers are responsible to MPs in Parliament. It is the job of Ministers to be held accountable by MPs on behalf of their constituents, and the responsibility and constitutional duty of Ministers to ensure that substantive responses are provided to MPs writing to them on behalf of their constituents on constituency issues. All correspondence from a department of state to MPs *must be signed off by a minister.* ***No exceptions***. It takes you a few minutes to email your MP asking them to write to a Minister asking what they will do on this constituency issue. Go for it.


There are a few out there:

There are also party-political petitions such as the Lib Dems here. Other political parties exist should you want to go down a party-political route – Cambridge Labour, Cambridge Green Party, and East Cambs Conservatives – picking the more active ones with an example from each.

Get involved with a local campaign group

In this case, the Cambridge Area Bus Users Group – who could do with the additional capacity at the moment. Give Richard an email and ask what assistance you can give him rather than asking what he’s going to do about it and sit back. Such small campaign groups are dependent on volunteers and in this as in many other cases, they don’t get paid for it. My small voluntary contribution is keeping the Cambridge Area Bus Users FB Page updated.

Buy a magazine that specialises in the issue you’re concerned about – chances are they’ll have useful background information

In this case, Buses Magazine – yes, it exists! Also Modern Railways, and Rail magazine for those of you who use trains regularly. ***If you spend a lot of money on public transport, then think of it as finding out what your fares are spent on***.

Above – when I was commuting to London I spent over £500 a month (in 2007-10 prices) on transport fares – so I made it my business to find out what my money was being spent on!

Table a public question at a council meeting.


***If you do not want to ask the question yourself, you can ask for an officer to read out your question at the meeting on your behalf*** I do it all the time because my long term health issues mean I cannot get to public meetings outside of Cambridge independently.

Politicians know that it takes a lot to get people angry/irate enough that they will email them about an issue. During my civil service days I was told that for every 1 constituent who writes in about a local/community issue – eg motorists driving cars with unlawfully-modified engines, there are at least 50 other people who have similar concerns. Once there are a small group of you in a small geographical area contacting them about it (especially if you are not regular correspondents, or politics nerds like me!), they start to notice.

So… Write to them!

(And please try to keep it polite. If your emails and letters are full of foul and abusive language their office staff can and will filter such things and you’ll get nothing back).

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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