Call to arms on bus cuts as council deadline arrives

SUS-140925-085754001
SUS-140925-085754001

Bus users are being urged to make a last big protest over proposed cuts as the County Council consultation deadline ends on Sunday September 28.

Rye Labour candidate Sarah Owen believes that the loss of bus services could lead to rural isolation.

She listened to concerns raised by residents at a recent meeting held at Winchelsea Beach Community Hall.

Ms Owen said: “These bus routes are a lifeline to our villages, which is why we will be campaigning hard to protect them.

“People rely on our bus services to get about town, to work and to school. There are alternatives to reducing the support for these routes which wouldn’t be so damaging to our local economy, businesses and the community.”

Rye and District Community Transport has already stepped in and vowed to keep the threatened 326 service around Rye, which also goes out to Broad Oak and Udimore, but other routes remain under threat.

Rye MP Amber Rudd said: “My position is clear, I am completely opposed to these changes, and will be submitting my objections to the formal consultation.

“I don’t want to see any resident who is elderly, vulnerable or isolated being impacted upon negatively by these changes. People need to get to school, to work and to local amenities like GP Surgeries – I will oppose these changes as I believe they will put at risk the chance for residents to go about their everyday lives.

Cllr John Hodges, Labour’s transport spokesperson on East Sussex County Council said: “There is another way of sharing the cost of these essential services.

“Operators need to take more of the rough with the smooth. County could choose to say to bus operators – if you want to make a profit from passengers you need to provide more help with unprofitable routes.”

Sarah Owen and Cllr Hodges met recently with Stagecoach managing director Philip Norwell to see if Stagecoach could keep providing the services if the subsidy is scrapped.

Sarah said: “It was a very useful meeting and we made sure Stagecoach understood how concerned people are about losing these services. The cuts would have a serious impact on many people and would isolate those in rural areas.

“The MD, Mr Norwell, told us that Stagecoach cannot commit to protecting the services at this time but pledged to look at this very carefully in the near future.

“These routes might not be profitable but they really are essential to many people.”

East Sussex County Council’s 12-week public consultation ends on Sunday, September 28.

People can give their comments by writing to Bus changes, East Sussex County Council, County Hall, Lewes, BN7 1BR or completing the online form at https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/.