Bus link campaign targets businesses

AN EADT-backed campaign to save a community transport service was taken to the heart of the business community last night.

When funding cuts marked the end of Sudbury’s Town Area Rural Transport (START) buses last year – a service that ferried people of all ages across the region – a group of determined volunteers stepped in to ensure the service was not lost.

Supported by the EADT and Sudbury Town Council, Go START was launched this year by founder John Phillips.

At Babergh District Council’s annual Business Evening, held at the Stoke by Nayland Hotel last night, Mr Phillips appealed to company chiefs to back the service with money and sponsorship.

Speaking at the event, he said: “These are the people that will ensure we keep this vital bus link on the road. We have been thrilled with the number of people offering help to drive the buses, service vehicles and sort paperwork but in the end only financial support will ensure our goal is achieved.

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“Lots of people have shown a great deal of interest tonight and I very much hope this verbal support is backed up as soon as possible. Without cash investment we will not be able to run the buses.”

For more than a decade START ensured some of the most vulnerable people in the region were not left isolated in their homes, including elderly and disabled residents, who were ferried to shops, doctors appointments or to social occasions.

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The buses were also used by schoolchildren and several charitable organisations that did not have their own transport or had to rely on local commercial bus services.

During a speech to the business leaders in the audience, Nick Ridley, chairman of Babergh’s strategic and financial planning task group, said the council was facing a 28% reduction in funding over the next four years.

He said that tough decisions would have to be made over that time on what services could be kept and what would have to go to make up for the shortfall in funding.

Anyone who would like to sponsor one of the buses or wants to offer support should contact John Phillips on 01787 310840 or 07718 736366 or Sue Brotherwood at Sudbury Town Council on 01787 372331 or by email at townclerk@sudburytowncouncil.com

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