THE return of a bus service providing a lifeline for Hadleigh residents has been heralded by those who made the turnaround possible.
Nearly 4,000 people in the town signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of an evening and weekend bus service to Ipswich, after it was axed by Suffolk County Council last year.
The weight of support led to the authority reversing its decision and providing funding for a new service to operate from Magdalen Road after 7pm on weekdays and three times a day on a Sunday.
Last week, the service collected its first passengers, and Simon Wills, who played a major role in organising the petition, said he was pleased to see the hard work had paid dividends.
“I really hope that enough people use the service for it to remain viable as I believe it is no more than a basic amenity,” said Mr Wills, from Station Road.
“I appreciate the support that has been given to the petition from all quarters and the county council’s positive response.”
The service will initially run for six months after which time it will be reviewed to determine if the demand has been sufficient for it to continue.
Shelley Pingo, another Hadleigh resident, campaigned for the return of the service and claimed people in the town were missing out on jobs, college and socialising if they did not have a car.
“This is a new lifeline,” she said. “We have pulled off what we set out to achieve and now we need to make sure the trial is not wasted.”
Brian Riley and Kathryn Grandon, district councillors for Hadleigh, were also instrumental in securing the new service, which will be run by Hadleigh Community Transport Group using a 16-seater bus.
“It is rare to be part of something so dramatic and so worthwhile as the restoration of a bus service and the community support it provides,” said Mr Riley, who took the bus to Ipswich on its first journey.
Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, said he hoped the service would be well used.
“We recognised the need for there to be evening public bus services in the Hadleigh to Ipswich corridor, which is why I am pleased that we have been able to secure sufficient funding to make this happen.
“The new service will be particularly useful for students attending college and university, but it is open to all.”
INSTRUMENTAL: District councillor Brian Riley was among the first passengers to use the service last week.