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Suffolk rural buses set for axe - but some routes beat county council cut

PUBLISHED: 16:54 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 02 August 2019

Rural bus services are under pressure in Suffolk . Picture: ARCHANT

Rural bus services are under pressure in Suffolk . Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Bus services to some rural villages in Suffolk are to be cancelled from the start of November after the county council decided to withdraw financial support.

But some will survive with bus companies running them as a commercial service - or funding coming from other sources.

The county announced last month that 23 services were at risk as part of the shake-up. Two have definitely been saved - the 971 from Hadleigh to Colchester will continue on a commercial basis and the M33 and M34 circular routes around Bury St Edmunds have got alternative funding.

Five services in the Hadleigh and Stowmarket areas have been reprieved until March next year while the council discusses their future while several services will be axed either at the end of September or during November.

A full list of the changes is on a county council factsheet.

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The council said that the 23 bus services under threat accounted for only 0.7% of the county's 14.9m bus journeys last year. On some routes it was paying a subsidy of more than £25 for each return journey according to its accountants.

Mary Evans, cabinet member for Transport said: "I am really pleased that we have managed to continue these services which were at risk, and I am hope we can find alternatives for the other routes.

"This demonstrates Suffolk County Council's commitment to working with operators and communities. With a decreasing budget, we have had to make a tough decision this year to withdraw subsidy but today's news highlights how local and commercial options can be found to enable services to run without public money."

Caroline Page, transport spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrat, Green, and Independent group said the changes would hit some people very hard.

She said: "Just because only a few people are hit, it doesn't mean that they aren't going to face real hardship with this decision.

"The council says that in some cases Connecting Communities services are available - but the council decided in March to withdraw subsidies for many users, so this is something of a double whammy for them."

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