Campaigners call on council to issue women with bus passes
PUBLISHED: 09:16 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:59 22 October 2019
Women campaigning against a rise in their state pension ages have asked the council to issue their bus passes early, citing areas where cheaper travel is not tied to pension eligibility.
Organisers of a Norfolk campaign group have urged their members to write to the county council asking for their bus passes to be issued ahead of receiving a state pension - after the age for 1950s-born women was raised to 66.
And more than 100 members of Norfolk Broads PAIN (Pension Action in Norfolk) have written to the council "about the possibility of a concessionary bus pass".
Co-founder Lynn Nicholls said: "We asked Norfolk county council for their support last year and we also asked if it was possible to have a bus pass because at the moment it's linked to the state pension age."
Passes are currently issued in Norfolk once the recipient is eligible for a state pension, in line with government guidance.
But in other areas of the country the passes are issued at the age of 60.
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Mrs Nicholls, from Thetford, said: "We had a longer wait with our pensions and we thought it would be useful to have a pass while we waited."
The 65-year-old campaigner added: "We are prepared to contribute and that seemed to put a different light on it.
"It's a lot like a senior railcard where you buy it and it saves you money.
"A councillor suggested ladies write to the council independently and so far 112 have written letters."
Mrs Nicholls, a former Tesco employee, said she thought it would be "a nice gesture" from the council, who voted in April this year to support the PAIN group's campaign and put pressure on the government to reconsider its policy on offering transitional compensation to women affected by the age change.
And Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council (NCC), said he was keen to see a more flexible approach from the Department for Transport (DfT), which stipulates that the eligibility age for concessionary transport is tied to the state pension age.
"We fully support the Norfolk Broads PAIN campaign," he said.
"We are lobbying government for more freedom in how the charges for such fares can be made in an effort to change the national guidelines on pensionable age set by the DfT so that there can be a more flexible policy approach."