People power wins the day

AN axed bus service will return to Hadleigh later this month thanks to the strength of people power.

The town was left without evening and weekend services to Ipswich last year after Suffolk County Council withdrew the number 90 bus in order to cut its public transport budget.

But residents in the town felt the decision restricted their freedom and more than 3,500 people signed a petition calling for the service to be reinstated.

On August 20, the new service will be launched and those in the town will no longer face an unofficial public transport curfew after 6.15pm.

“We hope and think the new service will be a success and a lot of people signed the petition so there is a great demand for it,” said Kathryn Grandon, a district councillor for the town.

Mrs Grandon, along with fellow councillor Brian Riley and residents Simon Wills and Shelly Pingo, were instrumental in running a campaign to bring back the axed service.

In May, their endeavours were rewarded when Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for roads and transport, agreed to a six-month trial of the service.

“We have all put in a lot of hard work to ensure everything runs smoothly,” said Mrs Grandon, from Angel Street.

“We are very excited that people power has won out and it is because so many people demanded the service back that this has come to fruition.

“The main thing now is to ensure people use it.”

Timetables for the bus service, which will be run by Hadleigh Community Transport using a 16-seater minibus, have been posted around the town and Mrs Grandon said a wide range of evening education classes, jobs and entertainment was once again open to people.

“Young and old will be happy about the return of evening and weekend services as they can use the facilities in Ipswich and know that they can get home again,” she said.

Simon Wills, who started the petition, said he was pleased common sense had prevailed.

“It was just not practical for people in Hadleigh to effectively be left stranded in the early evening,” he said.

“I hope the service will get the numbers required to continue.”

Five drivers currently work for Hadleigh Community Transport but this number is expected to be increased when the new service begins, with the last bus leaving Ipswich at 10.30pm.

The service is subject to review.