Bus move could mean service cuts

IPSWICH buses managing director Malcolm Robson today admitted there could be service cuts when the company moves to a new depot, probably in 2009.Mr Robson told a meeting of Suffolk County Council's Transports Scrutiny Committee that some “delicate” services could face the axe if the company had to pay rent of £500,000 a year on its new depot.

IPSWICH buses managing director Malcolm Robson today admitted there could be service cuts when the company moves to a new depot, probably in 2009.

Mr Robson told a meeting of Suffolk County Council's Transports Scrutiny Committee that some “delicate” services could face the axe if the company had to pay rent of £500,000 a year on its new depot.

However he said the exact figure was still open to negotiation and there were no certainties about which services could be axed.

Mr Robson was summoned to a meeting along with Ipswich Buses chairman, conservative councillor Paul West to explain the threatened bus service cuts in the town.

Ipswich Buses owner, the borough council, has asked the company to pay more rent for its premises and to pay a dividend from its profits.

That prompted Mr Robson to write a memo to bus company directors warning services could have to be cut back next year and that some services could be axed altogether.

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When The Evening Star was leaked details about this memo there was an outcry and hundreds of passengers protested about the threat of cuts. Company chairman and Labour Councillor Phil Smart was ousted following the leak and his position taken over by Mr West.

At today's meeting Mr West, said: “It is still very early days in the negotiations over the rent that the bus company could pay, and it is certainly the intention of the borough that we should continue to have an efficient and reliable bus service covering the whole town”.

Labour councillor Kevan Lim had suggested that the borough council saw the bus company, which it owns, as a “cash cow”.

However the borough's finance spokesman John Carnall said the bus company cost council taxpayers money rather than a source of funds for the borough.

He said: “The borough subsidises services far more generously than we are paid to do by the government, our concessionary fares scheme costs council taxpayers £900,000 a year”.

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