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Petition started against local bus cuts

PUBLISHED: 15:00 01 April 2011

The number 536 bus will run for the last time today (Friday, April 1). Pictured are Yvonne Howell, left, and Simon Norton

The number 536 bus will run for the last time today (Friday, April 1). Pictured are Yvonne Howell, left, and Simon Norton

Archant

A BUS will drive through the villages from Beccles to Walberswick for the last time today as its service is ended due to cuts.

The 536 service calls in at Wenhaston, Sotterly, Brampton, Weston and other villages and hamlets twice a week on its way from Walberswick to Beccles.

It acts as a vital link for some local people, but today this service will take to the road for the final time after cuts made by Suffolk County Council.

It is among many that have fallen under the axe of the council as it looks to save £2.2 million in bus subsidies across the county.

However, a Shadingfield man is leading a petition against the cuts as he feels the service is vital for many in rural villages.

Derek Johnson is calling on people to let the council know their feelings and save the bus services.

Mr Johnson said the buses help a wide variety of people with the 536 service, which he uses, helping those who are disabled, parents with pushchairs, elderly and those who can’t afford to drive, among many others.

He said: “An 86-year-old, normally feisty lady, burst into tears while getting off the 536 Brampton saying ‘I don’t know what I am going to do, or how I will get out’.

“That shows how it is getting to people, the emotion there is. These services are communities in miniature.”

Among the people using it on Tuesday was Yvonne Howell, of Weston.

Mrs Howell said: “I think a lot of people live isolated so it is going to have an impact on them. We are all friends now; it is a social outing for a lot of us.”

Also on board was Simon Norton, coordinator of the Cambridgeshire Campaign for Better Transport, which is part of the Save Our Buses national campaign.

Mr Norton was visiting the region enjoying some of the local bus routes after holding a banner about buses at the TUC march in London on Saturday.

Trevor Garrod, chairman of the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association, has warned that cuts in local bus services will make the area less attractive for visitors and badly affect those using the services regularly.

He said: “We also need bus services that are not constantly changing their timetables at short notice, so that more people can be persuaded to leave the car at home and try the public transport alternative.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Councillor with responsibility for transport, said that £2.2 million had to be saved over the next year partly because it has seen a £35 million reduction in central government funding to support the running of public services in Suffolk.

He said: “As a result of this, it was decided that all SCC sponsored Sunday and evening services, together with infrequent market day services, were to be withdrawn to maintain the continuing support of regular core daytime local bus services during the week for work, school and shopping.”

Mr McGregor explained that an on-demand bus service was to be introduced to villages south of Beccles and Bungay, which would allow people to order the bus when they wanted to be picked up and sent home.

“We are finding that Demand Response Transport is the way forward, it is really our best hope to provide the transport network in Suffolk.”

•Mr Johnson is encouraging letters to be written to Colin Sweeney, Committee service manager, Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX. For a copy of a form to fill in as part of Mr Johnson’s petition call 01502 575599 or email deejay@uko2.co.uk

Other services withdrawn by Suffolk County Council include:

•498 from Harleston to Halesworth

•532 from Laxfield to Beccles

•563 from Aldeburgh to Norwich via Saxmundham and Halesworth

•564 from Wickham Market to Norwich via Saxmundham and Halesworth

•606 from Carlton Colville to Gorleston, via Oulton

•610 from Rumburgh to Lowestoft, via Halesworth and Mutford

•626 from Aldeburgh to Lowestoft, via Westleton and Blythburgh

•627 from Wickham Market to Lowestoft, via Lowestoft.

•99 some evening services from Lowestoft to Southwold, via Kessingland

•601 Sunday service from Southwold to Great Yarmouth, via Kessingland and Lowestoft.

Full details of all transport changes can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com

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