On the Buses…

bus stopPoor public transport is a problem facing people living in villages across Suffolk and in this area it is especially tough as in Stansfield, Denston, Poslingford and Hawkedon we have no bus service at all now.

Suffolk County Council currently spends more than £30m a year on subsidising public transport, home to school transport and concessionary travel. However, depending on where you live, if you don’t drive you are stuck and have to rely on friends, family and neighbours or a taxi to get into town.

It is an issue I have taken up at Suffolk County Council with my fellow councillors and officers since the elections in May. With further spending cuts coming, I think it is important to look not just at the financial costs of providing bus services but to weigh them against the social costs of rural isolation

I am pleased to tell you, that is exactly what we are going to do.

The council is setting up a policy development panel to consider how best to support the travel needs of both elderly and young people living in rural areas and how best to use the available funds and resources to achieve this.

I have been asked to chair the cross-party committee. We start work this month and the plan is that we will be looking at how other county councils, such as Cumbria, manage rural provision and we will be taking evidence from public and community bus operators, national experts on community transport, Age UK and other groups.

I don’t know yet who the other parties will nominate to serve on the panel so we haven’t got a meeting schedule agreed but our remit is to produce a report for the council leadership with costed recommendations.

I will keep you posted on our progress. Please, if you have any comments to make about public transport in your village – do let me know.