A great number of voices have been raised over this Pass and the great fear was that Boris Johnson would do something to jeopardise its existence. Instead he has extended it to 24 hours, 7 days a week and we have in this blog advertised our gratitude and thanks. If our fears were unfounded then we are the first to admit it.
However, it appears to be a little known fact that Mr. Johnson has dropped the reserve scheme.
Most campaigning pensioners are aware that if certain Councils drop out of the Scheme, namely Westminster, Barnet, Bromley and possibly Havering, then the scheme will collapse and the Pass will be no more. This situation has been an ever-constant worry to the watchdog Pensioners. But our buffer to despair was the existence of the Reserve Power which, incidentally, last year was under threat from certain Lib Dem Lords.
Should the scheme collapse in this way, then Ken Livingstone had the reserve power brought into being so that a Pass of sorts could be substituted. It would not be so comprehensive and indeed may only cover bus routes, but it was a safety net for Pensioners.
One of the contributors to this blog was told that the scheme was based on usage because of the expense and we do not pretend to understand the ins and outs of this answer. What we do understand is that if finance is the pivotal point of the Pass's existence, then it certainly (in the present day financial crisis), is in jeopardy. It comes down as ever, to money.
The Pensioners get precious little but the Freedom Pass is their jewel in their somewhat tawdry crown.
The Pass enables movement, and thus averts dementia, boredom and depression. It enables pensioners to shop and spend, and their money is real cash, not airy-fairy credit card exchange, the very things which contributed to the current crisis and bankruptcy. So the pensioners moving about are the very folk who encourage commerce and keep the towns and boroughs alive and afloat.
So please all you good people out there get in touch with your Greater London Assembly Councillor, your local Councillors and your MP's voicing your concerns that should there be any chance of the scheme collapsing a RESERVE scheme WILL BE PUT IN PLACE to protect the one thing which is a breath of life to us, keeps us healthy and by so doing prevents us becoming a burden on the NHS.
Mr. Johnson please take note.
A footnote: We have been told that the sum allocated to Councils to assist them in their contributions to the Bus Pass is not ring-fenced and so (if this assertion is true) are able to raid it for their own purposes, not necessarily connected to Pensioners' travel. Correct us if we are wrong please.