Rural bus serving villages between Sudbury and Hadleigh receives temporary lifeline from Suffolk County Council subsidy cuts
A rural bus service facing the axe due to funding cuts has been temporarily saved to allow time to develop alternatives for the community it serves.
The 112 service between Sudbury and Hadleigh is one of five services in Suffolk to receive a temporary lifeline thanks to a £24,000 grant, which will fund them until March 2020.
Serving people in Kersey, Semer, Bildeston, Chelsworth, Monks Eleigh, Brent Eleigh, Great Waldingfield and Little Waldingfield, the twice-weekly service was among 23 to be earmarked to lose its subsidy from Suffolk County Council at the end of July, to generate around £340,000 in savings.
But the authority said it has granted the funding extension to enable more time to work with bus operators, communities and councillors to find a permanent solution.
Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “I am pleased to report that 112 has been granted an extension in funding until March. If all the people who had contacted me about the 112 actually used it, then this would be a highly commercial service.
“On average, only seven people use it across the two days the service runs each week.
“I hope we can find more efficient and effective ways of providing rural transport through taxi-buses and electric vehicles. In the meantime, I look forward to working with local communities to secure a future for the 112.”
But Green Party county councillor Robert Lindsay, who represents the area served by the 112 bus, said: “I don’t like politicians playing games with vulnerable people’s lives, which is what has happened here.
“The county threatened to withdraw the subsidy at the end of July, and now we are supposed to be grateful that they are keeping the subsidy for another six months.
“The real solution would be for the Conservatives to acknowledge that this bus route is a valuable community asset and a vital service for people who have no other means of getting to Sudbury, and that the £6,100 a year it costs the county is a price worth paying.”