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Labour demands bus cuts are eased to boost Suffolk rural transport

PUBLISHED: 17:46 22 August 2018

Labour transport spokesman Jack Owen. Picture: SUFFOLK LABOUR GROUP

Labour transport spokesman Jack Owen. Picture: SUFFOLK LABOUR GROUP

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Labour councillors in Suffolk have demanded an end to cuts to rural transport after revealing figures showing that bus subsidies have more than halved in the last decade.

Cabinet member Mary Evans. Picture: GREGG BROWNCabinet member Mary Evans. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Labour transport spokesman Jack Owen said figures obtained by his group showed that Conservative-administrations had cut the budget for bus subsidy from £4.31 million in 2008/09 to £1.75 million in 2018/19, a reduction of 59%.

He said these cuts were causing the “slow death” of bus services in the county with rural areas particularly affected.

Mr Owen said: “These numbers show the brutal extent of Tory cuts to public transport in Suffolk. The sad reality is that these cuts will fall hardest on the poorest families in rural areas where unaffordable and unreliable public transport links make it hard to find and hold onto full-time employment.

“It also limits educational opportunities for young people and further isolates our elderly population. The human, social and economic cost of these cuts is immense.”

Mr Owen said the reductions in subsidy meant fares were being forced up as services themselves were being cut back – and he urged the Conservative administration to look at what had happened in other areas.

He said: “Other councils have already recognised this and have put an end to their bus subsidy cuts. It’s time that Suffolk County Council do the same, protect our bus services, make them sustainable for the future and putting our residents first.”

The Labour group has launched a petition calling for an end to transport cuts which can be found at: https://www.change.org/p/suffolk-county-council-end-the-cuts-to-bus-subsidies

Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The county council works extremely hard to ensure bus routes can be self-sustaining. We maintain good relationships with transport providers in the county so that we can have a good understanding of residents transport needs.

“We support the Dial-a-Ride service which is popular and widely used by residents, especially those in more rural villages, to book on demand journeys.

“We also recently launched the new Haverhill to West Suffolk Hospital bus service. This can be used by employees of the hospital and residents alike.”

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