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North Suffolk villages to lose bus link as public transport cuts set to bite

PUBLISHED: 17:15 21 August 2017

Journey's end: A Galloway bus at the Ipswich Bus Station. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Journey's end: A Galloway bus at the Ipswich Bus Station. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Residents in some Suffolk villages are set to lose their bus links to Ipswich and Diss as the county council tries to cut the cost of its public transport subsidy.

James Finch, cabinet member for highways and transport at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN James Finch, cabinet member for highways and transport at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

And other services will run less often – especially on Saturdays.

Suffolk County Council subsidises bus services run by Mendlesham-based Galloway which run from Diss to Ipswich serving Eye, Debenham and Mendlesham – and many other villages.

However these two services – Numbers 113 and 114 – use 14% of the county’s bus subsidy, and county council cabinet member for transport James Finch said it was necessary to cut the subsidy.

Stops in Thwaite and Stoke Ash are being cut out altogether – and other places will see fewer stops.

Zoe Rimmer of Thwaite is facing a long walk to the nearest bus stop. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Zoe Rimmer of Thwaite is facing a long walk to the nearest bus stop. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Mr Finch said: “We do need to bring down the spending on that service, it has been quite difficult to keep on financing those buses.”

Last week it became clear that the county council was having to look again at its community transport service as a result of a court case elsewhere in the country – but Mr Finch said this would be available for people who lost their bus service.

“We are determined to develop community transport – and it is an alternative for people who cannot catch a bus,” he said.

However Thwaite resident Zoe Rimmer said losing the bus would be a big blow – the current bus stop is near her home.

She said: “I would have to walk for 20 minutes along a footpath over some fields to get to the nearest bus stop. That’s bad enough at this time of the year. Can you imagine what it would be like in November?”

A spokeswoman for Galloway said they could not add to the official county council statement.

This said: “We have held various discussions with Galloway to agree the best way to reduce the total daily mileage and thus make savings with minimal disruption to the network and passengers.

“We can now advise that the core peak time and school journeys that have greater patronage will generally remain in place. The current timetable has been re-designed with a reduction in the total number of ‘off-peak’ journeys, especially on a Saturday. “Some of the least used bus stops and locations will have services reduced or removed from the new timetable. This will also help with punctuality and reliability of the service.”

County councillor for the Mendlesham area Andrew Stringer said the reductions would hit those who relied on the bus service hard – and the details had only been confirmed two weeks before they come into force.

He said: “In Thwaite the parish council is looking at putting in a new bench at the bus stop – but now there will be no buses.

“Over the last few years the local bus services have declined and it is now much more difficult to live in rural Suffolk without a car.”

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