MP pulls out of QC hearing

first_imgHoughton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson, has notified the QCS Board that she is “unable” to give oral evidence in respect of the proposed Quality Contract Scheme (QCS).One of the region’s most vocal and sharpest critics of private operators, mainly of Go North East which runs most commercial services in her constituency, she had previously said that she planned to appear in person to give evidence to the QCS Board.The public hearings, scheduled to take place over three weeks in March, will see the Combined Authority for the region, operators who will be affected, and other interested parties giving evidence in front of the QCS Board, which will then recommend if the QCS should proceed.Mrs Phillipson declined to speak to routeone, and her office refused to be drawn on the matter. It would not comment on speculation that Mrs Phillipson had pulled out either because of having to give evidence under oath – which means she would have had to restrict her comments to facts – or that she had been told not to appear by Labour bosses.Her office also declined to say whether she was unavailable due to other commitments.Originally, routeone understands that Mrs Phillipson had hoped to appear on the first day of the hearing, when it is likely that TV and national press would be present. However, in accordance with procedure, the main parties take precedence in appearing and routeone understands that Mrs Phillipson was told that her appearance would be later.In a brief statement Mrs Phillipson said: “Delays in the start of the inquiry process from January to March 2015 mean that regrettably, I will no longer be able to give evidence in person to the QCS panel.“These delays mean we are already well behind the schedule set out in legislation.“This emphasises the need for the Secretary of State to make sure the regional transport commissioner [sic] has everything required to complete the review in a timely manner.“I remain convinced that the proposals set out by the Combined Authority are the best way forward and enjoy considerable public support in the region.”North East Bus Operators’ Association (NEBOA) Secretary Tom Dodds says: “The oral evidence hearings in March will give everyone the opportunity to properly debate the proposal before the QCS Board.“It’s a shame that Mrs Phillipson is no longer able to take part, especially as she has been such a vocal supporter of the scheme and critic of our local bus companies.“NEBOA members stand by their assertion that a partnership approach offers the travelling public a far better outcome than the QC scheme, as is being demonstrated every day across England.”last_img