Funding approved for Ipswich Felixstowe Road bus service after First re-routing
PUBLISHED: 17:11 17 January 2019
Cash to subsidise a bus service has been approved on one of Ipswich's main roads after it was left without Sunday provision by route changes.
Ipswich Borough Council’s south east area committee on Wednesday agreed to fund just under £10,000 over the next 18 months for a Number 4 Sunday service in Felixstowe Road.
It came after First announced it would be rerouting its 76 and 77 services to go via Spring Road, leaving those in Felixstowe Road and Lindbergh Road without a Sunday bus and a 700m walk to their nearest stop on weekdays.
The committee unanimously approved the cash, while county councillors Paul West, Bill Quinton and Mandy Gaylard will also contribute some of their locality budgets to the cause.
Committee chairman Sarah Barber, Priory Heath ward, said: “The residents there appreciated that we were making sure a Sunday service to Felixstowe was in place, but are still really disappointed by First to re-route that.
“We have to consider what we can do next [after the 18 months] to support residents.”
She added: “I think First and the county council could have communicated more efficiently with the borough council and residents.
“The reason we are trying to play catch-up now is because they could have been more community-minded and publicised it.”
First carried out its statutory consultation with the county council, but did not liaise with the borough council, it is understood.
First had previously explained the decision was because the route was not regularly used, and had conducted thorough analysis of passenger numbers before its decision.
Holywells ward councillor Liz Harsant said it was important the residents were supported, but it should not have been for the borough council to pick up the pieces.
She said: “This is going to happen with area committee money which I am not very happy about because I think that should be used for community projects as opposed to funding a bus route. That should be the responsibility for the county.
“I think they [the residents] are pleased about the Number 4 because it means if they want to go to Felixstowe they can.
“The fact there wasn’t a bus running down a main route in Ipswich is ludicrous.”
The council’s north east area committee will also consider a funding bid for £6,600 next week to be used over the same time period.