Party time as villagers win bus service battle

BUS STOP PARTY: Villagers in Monks Eleigh can hail the number 112A bus - thanks to a campaign.
BUS STOP PARTY: Villagers in Monks Eleigh can hail the number 112A bus - thanks to a campaign.
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JUBILANT Monks Eleigh residents were up early on Monday morning baking cakes and biscuits to take to a rather unusual party – a bus stop party.

The cut-off villagers, who have been campaigning to get a bus service for a year, set out tables and chairs for a feast of homemade cakes and treats in The Street, in anticipation of a very important occasion – the arrival of their first 112A bus.

And, right on time just before 10am, the single-decker bus pulled up outside The Swan pub, which supplied free teas and coffees to the waiting 40 passengers, to the sound of loud cheers.

Transport campaigner Jacqueline Cooper said: “It was a tremendous community atmosphere, great fun and a wonderful occasion.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this new service, and it was the culmination of all that hard work. I think it was a great turnout for a Monday morning. People had been up really early baking biscuits and cakes. I gather they also had a welcoming reception at Little Waldingfield. Now we must get people to use the service or lose it.”

The Monks Eleigh and Neighbourhood Transport group (Meant) won the backing of Suffolk County Council to run a public bus service between Sudbury and Hadleigh on Mondays and Wednesdays, and between Sudbury and Chelsworth on Thursdays.

Mrs Cooper said the loss of the village’s previous bus service, more than a year ago, had been difficult for some people, contributing to loneliness and despondency, in addition to the practical difficulties of doing shopping and visiting dentists and opticians.

At the time, the only bus service available to villagers went to Sudbury on a Saturday. Now villagers have a term-time service to Sudbury three times a week.

The bus is the one featured in the Free Press which waited in the Sudbury coach and bus park behind Waitrose for hours while not being used between school journeys. The new service was approved by the council after talks with Meant, and will run during term time only.