Councillor's anger over bus cuts

A COUNCILLOR fears cutbacks in rural bus services could harm his town's viability - and is urging Suffolk County Council to instead look at cutting back on bureaucracy.

By John Howard

A COUNCILLOR fears cutbacks in rural bus services could harm his town's viability - and is urging Suffolk County Council to instead look at cutting back on bureaucracy.

Keith Scarff, a Stowmarket town councillor and a former mayor, said he is dismayed that at a time when more people are using buses, pensioners may find there is actually no bus for them to catch.

Mr Scarff fears that, with Stowmarket already suffering from unpopular car parking charges, any reduction in bus services could harm the town centre's viability.


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The county council announced last month that it would stop a number of rural bus routes as part of a £24 million package of cost-cutting measures aimed at keeping council tax down.

But Mr Scarff said: “At a time when the numbers of people taking the bus may well be going up, pensioners may well find that there is no bus to catch.

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“I am also worried about the effect this could have on the viability of Stowmarket town centre, where we have seen a number of hikes in car parking charges which encourage people to shop elsewhere.

“Many people have no other means of transport and have to rely on bus services. Why aren't the county council cutting bureaucracy instead of bus services?''

Mr Scarff also wants to see a national concession scheme for pensioners so that they can travel for less on the bus outside Suffolk.

He said: “I very much welcome the fact that pensioners will receive free off peak travel from April, but if they start their journey outside Suffolk they will have to pay the full fare.

“What we need is a national scheme so that pensioners can travel across county boundaries without having to worry.''

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said difficult decisions have to be made as the budget is cut, but the authority will do its best to ensure they do not inconvenience too many people.

She said: “There are difficult decisions that have to be made and we are looking at them now.

“Our public transport team will be working with operators to ensure there is the least impact possible on passengers, although you can't cut services without inconveniencing people.''

She added that a bus concession decision is the responsibility of individual district and borough councils across the country, but the authority hopes pensioners will be able to travel for free if they start their trip within Suffolk and travel across the county border to the next stop.

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