Relief as ‘absolutely essential’ bus service saved from axe

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Suffolk County Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for highwa

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Suffolk County Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs Picture: JAMES CARTLIDGE MP - Credit: JAMES CARTLIDGE MP

An under-threat bus route popular with schoolchildren and branded “absolutely essential” by an MP is no longer facing the axe under Suffolk County Council plans, it has emerged.

Suufolk County Council has announced cuts to bus route subsidies Picture: PAUL GEATER

Suufolk County Council has announced cuts to bus route subsidies Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Despite the council pulling its subsidy for various rural routes, the 971 bus service - which will now run between Hadleigh, Capel St Mary, East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary and Colchester - will continue to operate without it.

This is because bus company Beestons, which currently runs the service, has stepped in to save the route by continuing to run it on a commercial basis.

However, there will be a slight change to the route and the bus will no longer stop in Layham, Raydon and Holton St Mary.

People living in these villages can meet the bus in Hadleigh or East Bergholt.

Suffolk's highways chief Mary Evans said: "It is great that Beestons have agreed to take on this service commercially.


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"It is an important route for residents in these villages, including students, who use the bus to get to post-16 centres in Colchester.

"This is a good example of how we are working with operators to find solutions where we are unable to fund services with public money.

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"We are continuing our conversations with operators and local communities and are dedicated to seeking solutions like this for other services."

Meanwhile, a Beestons spokesman added: "We are pleased to be able to take on this route commercially, to continue this bus service for our current and future passengers".

MORE: Which bus routes are under threat in Suffolk?South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge had raised concern about the 971 route after it was announced the county could lose 23 bus services under council plans to save £340,000.

He welcomed plans to keep the service and said: "I'm delighted to hear this news as the 971 is an important route for my constituents, especially from the point of view of access to post-16 education.

"It shows that it should be possible to look constructively for solutions on routes which can work commercially.

"Of course, the question remains over less financially stable routes, particularly in more remote villages.

"In the weeks ahead, I will be working with stakeholders to look at some of the barriers standing in the way of developing alternative, more sustainable provision."

- Are you affected by plans to axe bus services in Suffolk? Let us know in the comments.

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