Wrinklies boost the 76 from Felixstowe

I RARELY catch buses, and have little idea of how many people use them, so I was quite taken aback on the day after the local elections to find 11 other folk at a stop in Western Avenue, Old Felixstowe, waiting for the late running 10:08 service 76 to Ipswich.

Graham Dines

I RARELY catch buses, and have little idea of how many people use them, so I was quite taken aback on the day after the local elections to find 11 other folk at a stop in Western Avenue, Old Felixstowe, waiting for the late running 10:08 service 76 to Ipswich.

Having crawled to bed at 3am after a day spent interviewing Suffolk's new chief executive Andrea Hill and then waiting around for officials in Ipswich to complete a fourth recount in one of the borough's wards, I decided I was too knackered to drive up the A14 and opted for the bus.

As it progressed on via a circuitous route to central Felixstowe and then on to Ipswich, the bus filled up but there was a virtual non exchange of cash on the hour long ride.

The Government's subsidy for off-peak bus travel by pensioners and the disabled has certainly boosted their mobility. I reckon it would have cost Suffolk Coastal district council nearly £100 to cover the journeys of the non-fare paying wrinklies on that particular journey of route 76.

Multiply that by all the journeys a day on every bus route and it comes to a tidy sum. In fact, I suspect most pensioners - especially those living in Band A and B properties - will recover their council tax in free bus journeys.

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Incidentally, all credit to the seven districts in Suffolk for allowing free travel for the elderly and disabled during the morning rush-hour. It puts Colchester, Chelmsford, Tendring, Maldon, Braintree, Uttlesford and the rest of Essex to shame, whose residents must wait until 9:30 before the start of free fares

WHILE on the subject of the cost of travel, my wife and I spent the weekend on the Isle of Wight. We took the green option, the train, to Portsmouth Harbour. Cost of the tickets: a whopping £96 each, and that was standard class!

Even with the price of petrol and adding in the Dartford tolls, I reckon it would have cost no more than £50 for the return journey by car for the two of this, as against the rail fare of £192. Fortunately, I wasn't paying the bill but the train operating companies should be ashamed of themselves as the cost of travelling by rail.

Yet another example of “Rip off Britain.”

AMID all the talk about Suffolk councils' reorganisation - that is among 400 councillors because most of the other 700,000 residents in the county couldn't care less - there's one question to be asked: why is the cost of democracy in Ipswich more expensive than in Norwich?

Norwich has 39 city councillors, while Ipswich can't make do with less than 48. Both authorities are of similar size. Indeed Portsmouth - population 185,000 give or take a few sailors - only has 39.

When you total the allowances and expenses claimed by elected members in the two East Anglian councils, Ipswich is exposed as an over-priced talking ship.

THANKS to a Sainsbury's `buy-one-get-one-free' offer, we bought some Vietnamese basa fillets the other day. Basa, promoted as a “great alternative to cod or haddock” is a really meaty fish and full of flavour.

Whether it catches on with the public will only be found out when the supermarket promotion ends. No doubt green gauleiters will be seething at the carbon footprint generated because the fish are farmed in the waters of Vietnam and sent to Grimsby to be processed.