I would like to give my thanks to all those who signed, got involved with, and followed the efforts of our recent ‘Save Our Ipswich Shuttle’ campaign.
1090 people signed the petition and sent in comments. Many described limited mobility, need to make quick shopping trips, the easiness of jumping on and off, the undoubted friendliness of the drivers and fellow passengers as reasons why they regularly used it. I surveyed both the peak morning and lunch time journeys and found that in peak times 350 to 400 passengers travel from within the town itself on it. Not just to the Public Sector campus, but various places on the route. Lunchtimes between 90 and 150 travels daily into town; I estimated that this could add annually as much as £390,000 to the Ipswich town centre economy.
Labour County and Borough Councillors, Ipswich Borough Council, County Court staff, Suffolk University, the 1090 people who signed the petition, and many more all feel the shuttle bus should be reviewed and relaunched, not simply cut. Its route hasn’t changed since 2004 and it could now offer so much more, a quick and easy link between bus and rail stations, restaurants, entertainment and retail centres at the buttermarket and sailmakers, the Education Quarter, Waterfront, new Princes St employment area, as well as the Council Offices in Russell Road. I believe there are public and private organisations in the town who would be prepared to financially support a new Ipswich Shuttle bus, but regrettably that is not now going to happen.
Our Labour Motion to County Council Full Council last Thursday was to ask Suffolk County Council to extend the current shuttle bus contract for six months so that all the ideas and suggestions from users, people like Rachel Gilbey from Suffolk University and others could be considered. And with Cllr David Ellesmere’s offer to use the Ipswich Borough Council £20,000 currently allocated each year in extra lunchtime shuttle buses used as the starting point for a new shuttle bus, funded collectively from various organisations interested in it.
Councillors are often told we should ‘think outside of the box, be innovative’ I think our Motion was just that, in response to significant public demand. It’s a pity the Conservative Councillors who control Suffolk County Council, including the three Ipswich Conservative County Councillors decided to vote against saving the shuttle and working with their public and private partners on a new Ipswich shuttle bus. The Motion, and therefore the shuttle bus was lost, its last day is 28 July. But thank you to all who campaigned, especially Shofik Ali, Ipswich resident, community volunteer and brilliant online petition organiser.
Cllr Sandra Gage,
County and Borough Councillor for Rushmere, Ipswich,
County Labour Group Leader,
County Labour Spokesperson For Transport