Bus service could be just the ticket

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ISOLATED villagers have decided to take their transport needs into their own hands by canvassing support for a new bus service, writes Anne Wise.

Several villages in the Monks Eleigh area have lost vital bus links which have been cut by councils to save cash.

Now an action group has been set up to fund a daily service into Sudbury serving the villages of Bildeston, Chelsworth, Monks Eleigh, Brent Eleigh, Milden and Little Waldingfield.

Kathy Haddow, from the Monks Eleigh and Neighbourhood Transport group, said hundreds of surveys had been sent to residents to gauge support.

The case for a new bus service will be put to Bildeston Parish Council on January 8, at which time initial funding will be sought with the group aiming to self-fund the daily service in the future.

She said: “In these days of cuts, you have to do it yourself and we need all the support we can get.

“Several months ago we had loads of bus services coming through the villages but now there is only one bus service which goes to Sudbury on a Saturday.

“There is a three-hour wait for the return journey and, if you are elderly, you do not want to have to hang around in town that long.”

She said the group is initially aiming to run a 25-seater mini-bus once a day at a cost of £100, which will be self-funding through a season ticket.

A national recent survey revealed that some people had lost jobs and opportunities to study as a result of local authority bus cuts.

Ms Haddow said: “I know some people are feeling isolated and feeling like they have lost their independence.

“A lot of these people do not have access to the internet to order their shopping online so they are having to rely on one another.”

Ms Haddow, from Monks Eleigh, said there had been a lot of support for the new bus service from residents in the villages.

“The parish council has been very supportive but we need to ask for some funding to get the service running,” she said.

“After that, we will raise the money ourselves. We are going to start small, maybe once a week, and hopefully build it up. I believe we can fill the bus up.”

She said some villagers were paying for dial-a-ride services into Lavenham where they could pick up a bus to Sudbury. With their bus pass, it was still costing them £6 a journey.