DCSIMG

Subsidised bus services under the spotlight

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THE COUNTY council is proposing changes to the way it subsidises bus transport across the county in a bid to save £1.7 million over two years which could impact vital services in Hastings.

On Tuesday (July 1), East Sussex County Council (ESCC) agreed a 12-week consultation into subsidised services.

Several Sunday and off-peak services in the Hastings area stand to be affected but the council says that under the proposals, supported services which operate during peak hours would be largely unchanged.

Councillor Carl Maynard, the county council’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “We want to hear the views of bus users who rely on these services.

“We need to strike the right balance between financially supporting privately-owned bus companies to run economically unviable services around the county and ensuring that our taxpayers are getting value for money and that the limited funds we have benefit those most in need.”

However, Labour warns Hastings could become a ghost town if services are impacted by the funding changes. John Hodges, Labour’s transport spokesman, said: “This decision has been made by county cabinet members not one of whom lives in Hastings. We will be telling them to take a ride.”

Jeremy Cooper, commercial director of Stagecoach in East Sussex, said: “East Sussex’s routes are local authority contracts for public services and it’s up to ESCC to decide what level of service it requires, as it does for other services that it buys in. We continue to look for opportunities to expand what we do without subsidy - for example we’ve just announced another evening bus from Hastings to Bexhill. We are yet to review in detail what East Sussex is proposing but will certainly continue to operate Sunday buses in Hastings.”

The consultation will start on Monday (July 7 )and run until Sunday, September 28 and is available online at https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk.

 

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