Sudbury: Community urged to back rural bus campaign
THE East Anglian Daily Times is today backing a campaign to save a community bus link that provides a vital service for people of all ages in west Suffolk.
For more than a decade Sudbury’s Town Area Rural Transport (START) buses have ferried disabled residents, older people living alone, schoolchildren and special needs groups across the region – from shopping trips, to medical appointments and days out.
When funding cuts were announced last year the much-loved charity service faced closure.
But now a determined group of volunteers, supported by the EADT, are aiming to keep the buses on the road with the launch of a new service called Go START.
John Phillips, Go START founder, said: “We can’t just let the service disappear, it’s far too important for too many people to allow that to happen. This is our chance to do something and we need to act now.
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“We need volunteer drivers, mechanics, people to man the phones and businesses to donate money or sponsor us so we can maintain our buses and keep them running.”
The new service has already received financial backing from Sudbury Town Council and town clerk Sue Brotherwood said the council would do all it could to ensure Go START had a long-term future.
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“The time to act is now and I’m sure the wonderful community spirit our town so often shows will be proven once again,” she added. Dr Wil Gibson, chief executive of Suffolk ACRE, which helps communities identify their needs through community action, said if Go START was successful it would act as a great example of what could be achieved in other communities.
He said: “With more commercial bus routes under threat this kind of voluntary transport is going to become very important and without them those living in remote areas and people with various disabilities will be in great danger of becoming isolated and forgotten. I sincerely hope the people of Sudbury will step forward.”
Russell Cook, west Suffolk’s EADT editor, said he was proud to put the paper firmly behind the campaign.
“This is vitally important to the town and our role as a local newspaper is to make sure we back community services like this,” he said. “Public services are facing a very uncertain future and we must all work together to ensure their future. I very much hope anyone who can help will get in touch now and back the campaign.”
Go START aims to maintain the majority of services – including a dial-a-ride service for those living in outlying villages, transport for elderly people attending hospital and doctors appointments, transport for wheelchair users, a drop-off service for pupils attending local schools, transport for those with disabilities and transport services for a number of local charity groups.
Anyone who can help or wants to support Go START should contact John Phillips on 01787 310840 or 07718 736366 or Sue Brotherwood at Sudbury Town Council on 01787 372331 or by email at email@example.com.