It is with sadness that I read that the number 90 bus service from Hadleigh to Ipswich is under threat of closure because of the actions of the Conservative run county council. As some of your readers will know, over the last ten years the county council has been cutting bus subsidies year on year on year. In that time the council has cut its support for local buses by over £2m or 60% of its total budget.
A number of you will be thinking that the council has to live within its means and in this age of continued austerity there is no money, but this is flawed thinking. Bus services generate income and wealth for the county. For every pound spend on supporting bus services more than £3 is created in wider benefits such as better access to jobs, to services and to wider support networks. Investing in buses is investing in our communities.
Other councils across the country realise this and are stopping, or in some cases reversing bus subsidy cuts. Further cuts to bus subsidies is a clear sign that this administration is hell bent on damaging communities no matter what the cost.
I ask the Cabinet member for Highways to come forward and be clear, open and transparent about which services she is going to cut and what she is going to do in order to reduce the burden further bus cuts will have on the county council.
Further I want to put on record that I think it is disgraceful that these cuts are to be agreed behind closed doors, in private, and without consulting the community – not, as reports suggest, at an official meeting of the council. I am not allowed to attend the meeting where these cuts will be agreed and so will not be allowed to make the case for keeping the subsidies at their current level. This is the contempt with which this council treats the people they are supposed to represent.
I have been concerned about this issue for some time which is why I started a petition which can be found at. If you are concerned about the impact of bus service reduction, like I am, then I urge you to make your voice heard and sign the petition now. I also urge you to write to your local county councillor calling on them not to support more bus service cuts.
It’s not too late, but we need to speak up now.
Cllr Jack Owen
Labour Opposition Spokesperson for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs