Strong leadership key to securing £47m for bus services in Derbyshire

Strong leadership and BSIP buy-in from operators has helped Derbyshire County Council secure £47m

Managing Director of Trentbarton and Kinchbus Jeff Counsell, and Deborah Oddy, Head of Transport and environment at Derbyshire County Council, came together at the Masterclass Theatre at Euro Bus Expo on 2 November to discuss how they managed to secure £47m of funding through the Derbyshire Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Excellent attendance at meetings, including from Cabinet Member Councillor Kewal Singh Athwal, and buy-in from all operators in the region, has been key to the success of the Partnership, according to Mr Counsell and Ms Oddy. That attendance has allowed operators involved in the discussions to raise issues, such as around road work and traffic management, that have been dealt with by experienced council leaders.

Mr Counsell says that the partnership already had a good basis thanks to good relationships between bus operators in the region and the Derbyshire Public Transport Authority. “For 24 years that I have been with Trentbarton, we have had regular dialogue and meetings with officers and directors of the county, talking about bus services, so we are starting with a foundation that has always been really strong.”

He argues that collaboration has been successful due to commitment, time, and effort between all operators in Derbyshire, with customer focus at its core. “As an independent bus operator, the last thing we wanted was regulatory control,” he admits. “We did not see any need for statutory instruments to help us provide better services. We had a history of voluntary partnership which was very successful. But needs must, and we were as an industry forced down the line of Enhanced Partnerships, so our view turned to one of finding what was best for our customers. At the end of the day, the National Bus Strategy should be about improving the lot for customers.”

Capability and competence from experienced people has meant the Partnership is highly regarded by the Department for Transport. Adds Ms Oddy: “It was clear to me that the BSIP and the Enhanced Partnership had very strong leadership that created partnership, and as we all know, in those partnerships we have to invest a lot of time. It’ s challenging at times. But we’ve taken those difficult conversations and met them head on as a body and, as a board, addressed those issues.”