Residents voiced their dismay over proposed changes to the town’s bus services at a packed meeting this week.
More than 100 people gathered at Ore Centre in Old London Road on Monday (August 18) at the event organised by Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, Sarah Owen and county councillor Michael Wincott.
It was the latest in a series of Don’t Stop Our Bus public meetings being held throughout the constituency and follows meetings in St Helens and Westfield with further events to be arranged as the campaign gathers pace.
East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is proposing changes to the way it subsidises bus transport across the county in a bid to save £1.7 million over two years and launched a 12-week consultation on July 7.
Several Sunday and off-peak services in the Hastings area stand to be affected.
Ms Owen said: “Everybody in Hastings and the surrounding areas could be affected by these proposed changes. They threaten our local economy, businesses, employment rates, the environment and seriously impacts on people’s quality of life, particularly those who have no other means of transport.
“People at the meeting in Ore told us loud and clear that bus services in Hastings are a vital lifeline for them. There were serious concerns raised about how people would be able to get to and from work, hospital, shops, colleges, children’s and care centres as well as church, especially with a lot of the proposed services to be axed by ESCC falling on a Sunday. I agree savings need to be made, but ESCC needs to show some business sense and a backbone. It should go back and negotiate with Stagecoach to make the bus company take on some of the less profitable bus routes.”
Councillor Carl Maynard, ESCC’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “A huge amount of work has gone on to get us to this consultation stage with very specific outcomes affecting the absolute minimum number of bus passengers. Ninety-one per cent of passengers will not see a change whatsoever. Peak-time services will be largely unaffected. But clearly the time is right to look at services we subsidies because of our budgetary situation we find ourselves in. Currently taxpayers are subsidising some routes by as much as £11.97 per passenger because these are so poorly used. We do encourage people to take part in the consultation.”
The next Don’t Stop Our Bus meeting is on Tuesday (August 26) at 6.30pm at Tilnkiln Community Centre, Tilebarn Road, St Leonards.
The consultation runs until Sunday, September 28. Visit https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk.