Plea to save 'lifeline' rural bus service from Suffolk village

Passenger Victoria Broomhead with the 387 bus in Gislingham

Passenger Victoria Broomhead with the 387 bus in Gislingham - Credit: VICTORIA BROOMHEAD

A ‘lifeline’ rural bus service could be cut, prompting fears the elderly will be particularly badly hit.

The 387 bus, which runs between Gislingham and Stowmarket, will be axed in May when its current contract expires, although Suffolk County Council is working to secure a replacement service. 

However, Victoria Broomhead, who often uses the service, said she would have to move elsewhere to get a job in her media and advertising career as she used the bus to get to work. 

The 387 bus in Gislingham

The 387 bus in Gislingham - Credit: VICTORIA BROOMHEAD

She said the 387, operated by Suffolk Minibus and Coach Hire with county council funding, was really important for elderly residents who could not drive, while others needed the transport to access eye tests, collect prescriptions or go shopping or to the hairdressers and dentists. 

She said: “This isn't just about cutting an entire community off. This is about destroying rural communities.” 

She added: “Gislingham is expanding at a rapid rate. Very expensive houses are being built in the village, presumably aimed at people who can drive and have their own cars." 

Another customer, Philip Aldous, 46, travels to work as an assistant manager at British Heart Foundation in Stowmarket, but said he would lose his job if the route was cancelled. 

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“It would have a big impact for me as potentially I could lose my job. I don’t drive and I don’t wish to drive. 

“Public transport has been a lifeline to me since I left school and throughout my full-time employment,” he said. 

In total, the service makes up to 30 stops, including in the villages of Mendlesham, Bacton, as well as Stowupland, Combs Ford, Westhorpe and Finningham. 

Buses are provided from Monday to Friday, although there is no service at the weekends. 

A spokesperson for the county council said: “The current contract for the county council to provide the 387 service expires in May. Talks are underway to try to establish a replacement and we are hopeful that a positive solution can be reached.”