Bus cuts enrage villagers who will be left ‘cut off’ by timetable changes

The 94 bus is a lifeline for residents in Tattingstone and Bentley. Picture: KATE SPICER

The 94 bus is a lifeline for residents in Tattingstone and Bentley. Picture: KATE SPICER - Credit: Archant

Villagers in Tattingstone and Bentley say they have lost a vital lifeline after cuts have left them with just one bus a day.

Elderly residents boarding the bus this morning. Picture: KATE SPICER

Elderly residents boarding the bus this morning. Picture: KATE SPICER - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Buses had announced that they would be axing the 94, 94A and 94C services completely after a "withdrawal of funding by Suffolk County Council".

However, emergency meetings were held last week after pressure from Suffolk One over concerns some students would be unable to get into Ipswich to attend lessons. As a result, the council decided to reinstate the service, offering a bus into Ipswich in the mornings and a return in the afternoon.

The revised plans, however, do not help villagers who need to get into Ispwich to work, or shop.

Neighbours say the cuts will cost them their freedom, and possibly their jobs, while Bentley councillor Kate Spicer descred it as a "terrible development for both villages".

Many residents in the villages do not drive and are limited to catching the bus instead. Picture: KA

Many residents in the villages do not drive and are limited to catching the bus instead. Picture: KATE SPICER - Credit: Archant

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Mary Evans, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said: "As a result of negotiations with Ipswich Buses, we have agreed a morning and afternoon bus service for Suffolk One.

"Our plans, subject to approval, will be that this service will begin on Monday, November 4 and the timings, whilst slightly altered, will be more convenient for students.

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"Members of the public will also be able to use this bus which will operate Monday to Friday. The service will run every week of the year and not just during term time."

Residents gathered at the bus stop this morning to discuss fears of what might happen to them withou

Residents gathered at the bus stop this morning to discuss fears of what might happen to them without their bus service. Picture: KATE SPICER - Credit: Archant

Mrs Spicer explained why the service will not work for everyone.

She said: "For anyone with a job in the town, they won't be able to leave work early to get the 4.30pm service every day, no office would allow that, they'll lose their job."

Elderly residents gathered today to discuss their fears over the limited service.

Doreen Dodkins said: "I will become housebound if the bus is taken away."

Another resident, Christine Baker, is concerned that she won't be able to receive health care. She said: "There will be no way of getting to the doctor's in Capel or to my hospital appointments."

John Wheals will be unable to continue with his volunteer work in Bourne Community Garden, while Steve Willis is concerned that there will "be increased rural isolation for many more people".

Jenny Andrew, a retired Tattingstone resident campaigning for the bus, said: "It is essential for the college and very important that the students have got their bus service.

"However, it is equally important for the other residents in the village and it really is a lifeline for seniors.

"The senior bus pass cannot be used on the morning service so I can't even use it there or I'd have to pay.

"These new services will leave us stranded in town for the whole day. How would you feel if you couldn't get out or do anything? It's not a way to live."

Cllr Evans added: "The volume of passengers that use the 94 service in the evenings has been shown to be unsustainable. At times, there is evidence of the service operating with only a single passenger on-board.

"There is still the offer of the Connecting Communities service. These services must be pre-booked and more details of this can be found online."

Petitions are being signed by residents in both villages in an attempt to lobby for more services during the day for people who don't want to be limited by the new timetable.

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