Hawstead, Lawshall, Nowton and Shimpling villagers concern as axe hangs over thrice-weekly bus service
Villagers in Hawstead, Lawshall, Nowton and Shimpling face being cut off when their thrice-weekly bus service ends on November 2.
Route 375 is one of those affected by Suffolk County Council subsidy cuts, but its impending demise has been described as ‘dreadful’. All except statutory home to school journeys will end.
John West, Hawstead Parish Council chairman, said he feared those who relied on the bus could be left virtually isolated.
“This is going to affect a lot of people so I have been trying to galvanise support to save the service,” said Cllr West.
“We have had a bus that comes through the village here for at least since World War Two and there is a limited service as it is – just three days a week. We’re quite rural here. We’ve no shop, post office or pub and next thing, no bus.”
He was critical of publicity regarding the service cut, with no posters advertising the change at bus stops along the route and posters only put up in buses a fortnight ago.
“I feel strongly we need to help those people affected, but I also feel there hasn’t been adequate consultation within communities along the route. As far as I can see there hasn’t been any form of impact assessment,” said Cllr West, adding regular users of the bus included partially-sighted and very elderly passengers.
“This is dreadful for them when you drill down into it,” he said. “All we want is for there to be a positive solution. We’re hoping Suffolk County Council will think again.”
County councillor Karen Soons said: “Transport is the lifeblood of rural communities. The countryside should be for everyone, regardless of income or background.
“I am working with Andrew Reid, new cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs, to find a workable solution for residents in Nowton and Hawstead.”
A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman, said:“Suffolk Norse is unable to continue operating the service because fare income does not cover costs. The council is committed to finding alternative options and is in discussions with other operators to see if nearby routes can be diverted.
“Alternatively, residents can use the council’s Connecting Communities demand-responsive services at communities.suffolkonboard.com”