Hopes rise for new bus service

BUS service campaigners are “cautiously optimistic” that their hard work in getting a new transport link for isolated villagers might pay off.

The Monks Eleigh and Neighbourhood Transport group (Meant) is in talks with Suffolk County Council about setting up a trial bus service from May to help residents in Bildeston, Chelsworth, Monks Eleigh, Brent Eleigh, Milden and Little Waldingfield get into Sudbury.

Meant spokeswoman Jacqueline Clarke said she was encouraged by talks held recently at the county council’s office and hoped the group would receive a decision in the coming months.

“We are very hopeful and obviously we are very pleased, but we are being cautious not to give anyone false hope,” she said.

“We are in talks with Suffolk County Council about the possibility of setting up a trial service two or three times a week, but this is subject to some official approvals to do with regulatory matters, and we don’t expect to hear for seven or eight weeks.

“We are encouraged about the way things are going and all the group has worked really hard to get to this stage, including our members distributing 800 questionnaires around the villages.”

The action group was set up at the end of last year to try to get a new bus service following cuts to village services.

The group said the only bus service available to residents was to Sudbury on a Saturday, with a three-hour return journey wait.

They said a national survey had revealed that some people were suffering from a loss of independence and isolation because of losing bus services.

Campaigners were originally looking at raising the £100 a day needed to put on a 25-seater minibus, initially once a week, by offering villagers season tickets.

But the hope is that a new service will be run by the local authority, if the authority agrees there is the need.