THERE will be no ‘black holes’ in Suffolk’s rural bus services as a result of funding cuts, the county’s transport boss has promised.
As the county published a list of 93 county-subsidised routes that are under risk, its transport portfolio holder, Cllr Guy McGregor, said: “I and our officers are committed to getting the best possible service we can afford.”
He stressed that the inclusion of a route on the list did not mean it would certainly be scrapped. The council had to list all routes that might possibly be affected because it must give 90 days notice to bus contract holders and to the Traffic Commissioners.
Cllr McGregor said bus subsidies for this financial year cost £4.2 million, which must be cut by £2 million. He added that only two million of the 20 million passenger journeys made are on subsidised routes.
“Discussions are taking place with operators to see what we can put in place for this level of reduction in support,” he said. “There is going to be significant impact on communities so we have to go back to operators to seek out what we can do to fill black holes where we must supply services. I’m committed to supplying services.
“I don’t want to do a Band Aid. You don’t want to revisit it next year. I’d rather have stability.”
Cllr McGregor urged parish and district councils and communities to make their views known. He welcomed a campaign by Walsham-le- Willows Parish Council to fight the loss of routes 337 and 338 by demanding full information from the county and by starting an online petition.
In its report the parish said the cuts were against county, district and government policies which demand a reduction in car dependency.
It added: “Removal of the bus service will have a major detrimental impact on our village and its residents, many of whom don’t or can’t drive. These residents will have no regular reliable means of transport out of the village whether that is for work, shopping, attending school, college or visiting [hospitals].”
Cllr McGregor said: “I welcome their concern to draw it to our attention. Our officers have been instructed to release as much information as possible to parish councils.”
He urged other councils to do the same.
The Walsham-le-Willows petition is at http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/SAVE-OUR-LOCAL-BUS-ROUTES-337---338