My hon. Friend is exactly right. If people had been consulted at the outset, many of these problems could have been avoided.
There is a trade-off between having a fast route between any two points in a city and having the route go through the main residential areas, but it is surely not beyond wit and wisdom to have a two-tier service with, perhaps, one express bus that does not call everywhere and the next bus as a stopping service that goes to all the different residential areas. These details should be worked out between the operators, the council and the different groups that I have identified, and I would also include local employers in the consultation. I am pleased that the coalition Government agreement has a provision to encourage greater co-operation between councils and bus operators, and I am interested to hear what further comments on that the Minister might be able to make.
Finally, I ask the Minister to take account of the evidence from Milton Keynes and other areas where there are bus problems and to look again at the effectiveness of the provisions of the Local Transport Act 2008, particularly in relation to quality partnerships and contracts. I know they were introduced fairly recently, but I think it is appropriate now to review their effectiveness and consider what further changes might be made.
The decentralisation Bill is due later this year. We want to encourage greater devolution and decentralisation, and also open-source planning that leads to properly sustainable communities. I hope that that Bill might be an appropriate vehicle through which to address the changes I have discussed in this debate.
I do not believe it is right for central Government to be overly prescriptive in determining what bus system operates in what area. What works in one area might not be applicable elsewhere, and, as I have said, Milton Keynes is unique in its design. However, I hope that by raising this subject I have brought to the Minister's attention the fact that there is serious disquiet in Milton Keynes, and I would be grateful to learn of any steps he might take to encourage greater co-operation and consultation. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to raise this issue, and I hope my postbag on it will start to decline after this debate.
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