Bus operator looks at services after outcry

A REVIEW is taking place into bus services in a bustling market town following an outcry from residents at recent changes.

Operator First East England has faced strong criticism for curtailing services in Bury St Edmunds which has left some without a local service into town.

In Southgate Street a new bus shelter, which set St Edmundsbury Borough Council back �3,000, stands unused after First changed the number 85 service so it only travels away from the town centre, not towards it.

First spokeswoman Chelsea de Silva said it was currently reviewing all of its services in the town as a result of the level of negative feedback from residents and councillors at the alterations, but this did not necessarily mean anything would change.

A statement from First said: “Our commercial team are currently reviewing all services in Bury St Edmunds and are working closely with local councillors and resident groups during the review.

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“Whilst we regret having to withdraw from any areas that we currently serve, given the current economic climate we are being forced to re-evaluate our services, in line with other bus operators.”

Prior to last month’s changes – to numbers 80, 81, 82, 83 and 85 – great concern was expressed that sheltered housing residents at Beetons Lodge, in Beetons Way, would lose their nearby bus service. One resident said she would be left “housebound”.

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Councillor Paul Farmer, who helped achieve the new bus shelter, said now it “simply rubs salt into the wound for local people deprived of a service”.

Bridget Alexander, joint treasurer of the Saxon Gate Community Association, said the new shelter seemed a “complete waste” of time and energy, adding how the elderly people on the estate needed some form of transport.

The First spokeswoman said there had been no mention of the bus shelter, which was installed last November, in discussions with the community before the changes came in so the firm did not see it as a problem. Mr Farmer wants the company to consider reversing the 85 loop on occasions so people can be served in both directions.

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