Friday, 2 March 2012

Anger as East Anglians Confront Reality of Bus Cuts

There seems to be no end to the angst in East Anglia .

After blogging earlier in the year about First’s decision to withdraw entirely from Bury St Edmunds due to subsidy cuts, it now seems the cuts are having an impact on other operators, too.

The latest people to confront the reality of cuts to subsidised bus services are local councillors in Thetford. They have realised that subsidy cuts by Norfolk County Council would leave them without a subsidised bus link to the county capital, Norwich .

The main effect of this will be that people with concessionary bus passes will no longer be able to travel to Norwich free of charge on National Express services because the council has decided to cut its subsidy.

This means, says Thetford town councillors, that their town is now one of only three in Norfolk not to have a subsidised service running to Norwich. One councillor described the move as ‘absolutely disgusting’.

“ Norwich is our county city and the people who use bus passes are at a time in life where they need that service,” said Cllr John Harding.

“We are a part of Norfolk and they should start paying for bus services for those people,” he said.

Their local county councillor Mike Brindle says the Conservative-controlled council had to prioritise which services it funded, and there is, he says, a very small demand for the Thetford to Norwich service anyway.

But another local councillor suggested, rather pertinently, that if so few people were using the service, then surely it wouldn’t cost much to subsidise?

Norfolk County Council is having to find savings of half a million pounds on local bus services in the county. Despite the cuts in Thetford, they say they are still spending £200,000 on bus services in and around Thetford.

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