Bury St Edmunds: Bus firm to withdraw all services from town

THOUSANDS of people living on an estate could be left without public transport when a bus operator pulls out of the town, it is feared.

FirstGroup Bus Service announced yesterday it plans to axe all its services in Bury St Edmunds, and at the same time close its bus depot in Cotton Lane, from March 31.

Staff in Bury have been informed about the moves but the company does not intend to make any redundancies. It said about 15 staff worked from the depot and every employee would be offered a role in Ipswich.

While most areas of the town are covered by similar routes offered by other bus companies, the Moreton Hall estate – which has a population of about 6,000 – could be left without an alternative.

Trevor Beckwith, St Edmundsbury borough councillor for Moreton Hall, said the news was a “big blow”, especially as the only other public transport in the area was a Galloway bus service which operated infrequently on the fringes of the estate and missed off most of the amenities.

“Moreton Hall and the east of the town will be hit quite hard,” he said. “The county council has an obligation to provide some service, but what sort of service that would be we do not know. I am very concerned that we have some sort of public transport on the estate.

“This is a big blow, but I’m hopeful something will be sorted out as a lot of people depend on the buses.

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“The borough council planners are always going on about leaving cars at home to reduce traffic on the roads, but this can’t happen when there is no alternative.”

Fellow Moreton Hall councillor Frank Warby added: “We’re annoyed that we’ve been let down on the Moreton Hall estate again.

“We could be left with nothing, so we’re trying to get an alternative sorted out as quickly as possible. This is a dire situation.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio-holder for roads and transport, said the council would try to fulfil its duty to assess the provision of bus services.

He said: “We will do our best to ensure continuity of service for the people of the area for the future.”

A statement issued by FirstGroup said operations in the town had not been “commercially viable” for a considerable period of time.

The statement said: “The withdrawal of services should cause minimal disruption to the majority of our existing passengers.”