Politician meets with bus MD to convey depth of anger over bus proposals

A politician met with a bus company’s regional managing director to convey the depth of residents’ opposition to proposed changes to bus services in 1066 Country.

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, together with borough councillor John Hodges, met Philip Norwell, from Stagecoach, to relay thousands of people’s concerns and anger.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is proposing to axe the £1.79 million subsidy it pays to keep bus services running. More than 90 routes could be affected across the county but 60 per cent of the most severe cuts will hit Hastings and rural Rother, it is feared.

Ms Owen and Cllr Hodges met with Mr Norwell to see if Stagecoach could keep providing the services if the subsidy is scrapped. Ms Owen said: “The cuts would have a serious impact on many people and would isolate those in rural areas. Mr Norwell told us that Stagecoach cannot commit to protecting the services at this time but pledged to look at this very carefully in the near future. These routes might not be profitable but they really are essential to many people and I will keep doing what I can to make the county council think again about scrapping the subsidy.”

A 12-week consultation period started on July 7 for the public to give their views on the proposals which include the scrapping of evening and Sunday services and key routes including to the Conquest Hospital. Off-peak daytime services that run every hour or more would still operate from Monday to Saturday, but less often.

Councillor Carl Maynard, ESCC’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “We have had a big response to the consultation so far and, understandably, it’s an issue which has provoked some strong feelings. However, we have not, and will not, make any decision until we are able to fully take into account people’s views on the proposals and how they will affect their lives. I’d urge anyone who would like to comment on the proposals to do so before Sunday (September 28).” To comment write to Bus changes, East Sussex County Council, County Hall, Lewes, BN7 1BR. Alternatively complete the online comments form at https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk.

To support Ms Owen’s Save Our Buses campaign visit www.sarahowen.org.uk.