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More than £900 million spent on free bus passes

More than £900 million was spent on bus travel for pensioners and disabled people in the past year, the Department of Transport has revealed.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond revealed that local authorities had paid £906 million towards bus travel in a Parliamentary written answer to Tory MP Therese Coffey.

More than £900 million was spent on bus travel for pensioners and disabled people in the past year Credit: PA Wire

The figure, which included both statutory obligations and discretionary schemes run by councils, was paid to bus companies by local authorities during the 2012/13 financial year.

David Cameron pledged to protect pensioner benefits at the last general election, including the free bus pass, but last month social mobility advisor Alan Milburn, the former Labour health secretary, suggested it should be reviewed again.

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Father: Number of level crossing deaths is worrying

The father of a girl who died at a level crossing said that work being carried out to make crossings safer is "encouraging".

Father Chris Bazlington

Speaking to Daybreak Chris Bazlington said: "Network Rail still I don't think are there yet, they're doing a lot more than they were before, and that's encouraging.

He added; "These stories which keep coming out are worrying."

Network Rail: Investing £130m in improvements

A Network Rail spokesperson has responded to calls for an inquiry into the way danger is assessed at level crossings.

We recognise that level crossings can be dangerous which is why over the past two years we have closed over 700 and are investing some £130 million in improvements. By early next year we will have made improvements at some 2,500 of the countrys 6,500 crossings and continue a national public awareness campaign to help educate people about their dangers and how to use them correctly.

– Network Rail spokesperson

Councils using investigators to monitor their own staff

  • A total of 29 organisations, 27 councils, one public authority and one government department, the Department for Transport paid private firms to undertake surveillance
  • The used powers under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in the years 2010/11 and 2011/12
  • But, 14 organisations - 10 councils and four public authorities - paid private firms to undertake surveillance that was not covered by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, making it potentially illegal
  • Two public authorities and two councils paid other public bodies to spy on their behalf at a cost of £7,600
  • Four councils - Caerphilly, Dudley, Leicestershire and York - used private investigators to monitor their own staff

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UK law 'at breaking point' over surveillance

The Government has acted to control surveillance by local councils but this research shows more than ever before public bodies are using private detectives to do their snooping.

The law is at breaking point and public bodies shouldn't be able to dodge the legal checks on them by using private investigators.

– BIG BROTHER WATCH

Ten councils accused of potential 'illegal surveillance'

It's claimed around 14 bodies, including 10 councils, may have commissioned potentially illegal surveillance.

  • The findings were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch
  • The organisation claims four organisations paid other public bodies to undertake surveillance
  • It also claims four councils used private investigators to spy on their own employees

Public bodies spend £3.9m to snoop and spy

More than £3.9 million has been spent by public bodies over the last two years to pay private investigators for surveillance work, including snooping on their own staff.

The Houses of Parliament and Whitehall in central London Credit: Press Association

The Department for Transport is among a range of public organisations that have paid private firms to spy on their behalf.

Rail franchise bid suffered from 'lack of leadership'

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge MP, has strongly criticised the Department for Transport's handling of the West Coast Main Line competition.

She said that "no single person" had been in charge of the bidding process, and that for a period of three months "there was no single person in charge at all".

The franchising process was littered with basic errors. The department yet again failed to learn from previous disasters, like the Metronet contract. It failed to heed advice from its lawyers. It failed to respond appropriately to early warning signs that things were going wrong.

Senior management did not have proper oversight of the project. Cuts in staffing and in consultancy budgets contributed to a lack of key skills.

The project suffered from a lack of leadership.

– margaret hodge, chair, public accounts committee
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