Liam Byrne, Labour’s Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, has today expressed his profound disappointment that our Tory Mayor has turned his back on key workers.
Earlier this year, Labour MPs across the region asked the Tory Mayor to extend the free public transport scheme available to NHS workers to all key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
But in a snub to those non-NHS keyworkers who have worked hard to ensure that our region keeps going during the lock down, the Tory Mayor has rejected the request saying: “At this stage it only remains possible to provide free travel for NHS key workers. However, I note your request to extend free travel to other key workers.”
Liam Byrne said: “Our Tory Mayor will have spent his Thursday evenings on his doorstep ‘clapping for carers’ but when the chance came for him to do something that would actually help he decided to say no. He should be judged on his actions and on this occasion, he has been found to have failed those who needed his help most.”
Ravi Subramanian, Regional Secretary of UNISON said: “UNISON welcomed the support given to those working in the NHS at this time of national crisis, they rightly deserve it. But so do the thousands of carers, cleaners, council workers, school staff and shop workers who made the same journeys to their places of work during the pandemic. The Tory Mayor could have helped them if he wanted too but, instead, he chose not to. Care workers are some of the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers around. They go out of their way to look after our loved ones travelling to their homes and going to work in care homes. Some travel all day between patients to give care to vulnerable and older people. This small gesture would have made a real difference.”
During the pandemic, the Mayor has received over £2.1million of emergency tax-payers money to keep the West Midlands tram system running for key-workers.
*** End ***
Notes to Editors
- For further comment call Gareth Snell on 07515164417
- £2.1 million of emergency funding to keep West Midlands Metro on track https://www.expressandstar.com/news/transport/2020/05/02/west-midlands-metro-to-receive-more-than-2m-from-government/
- Text of letter from Andy Street to Rt Hon. Liam Byrne MP
Thank you for your letter of 30 April supporting the work Transport for West Midlands has done to provide free access to public transport for NHS key workers during the most critical period of the Coronavirus outbreak.
As you will appreciate, Transport for West Midlands has been working hard to make sure that key workers can continue to get to work and are as safe as possible on their journeys. This has meant working with operators to change the frequency of services and to ensure that we reduce the risk of transmission on public transport, for example by ensuring social distancing, and through more frequent cleaning schedules.
I join you in thanking the large groups of workers contributing to the fight against the virus. I have been impressed with the way that the people of the West Midlands as a whole have responded to the outbreak with common sense, patience, and compassion for others. Our region has come together and risen to the challenge.
The Government’s current advice to the public is to stay at home as much as possible, limit contact with other people, work from home if you can and to keep your distance if you go out. As the Government seeks to lift the lockdown in the coming months, Transport for West Midlands will be following the guidance provided by the Government, and will be working to ensure that people can travel safely across the region, on public transport, in private vehicles and by cycling and walking.
At this stage it only remains possible to provide free travel for NHS key workers. However, I note your request to extend free travel to other key workers and I can assure you that we will be keeping the scheme and eligibility for the scheme under constant review as the outbreak continues, and as we move towards the recovery.
Finally, I would like to thank you all as West Midlands MPs, for your hard work in supporting our constituents during this difficult time. I hope that we can continue to work constructively together to help the West Midlands recover from this outbreak, and to restore pride in the region in the months ahead.