Decision on bus cut plans to be made on December 16

Protestors outside County Hall
Protestors outside County Hall

The final decision on the future of bus services in 1066 Country will be made later this month.

East Sussex County Council’s cabinet committee is meeting on Tuesday, December 16 where proposals to change a number of services will be voted on.

The authority is proposing to axe the £1.79 million subsidy it pays to keep bus routes 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.

A 12-week consultation period ran from July 7 to September 28 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.

On Tuesday (December 2), Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, delivered an impassioned speech in defence of subsidised bus routes at a full council meeting at County Hall in Lewes.

Almost 7,000 people signed her Don’t Stop Our Bus petition during the 12-week consultation. Ms Owen also ran 11 packed public meetings on the issue throughout Hastings and Rye over the summer.

Scores of protestors waved placards outside County Hall on Tuesday, demonstrating against the proposed cuts.

Ms Owen said: “These bus cuts will hit our most vulnerable sections of society hardest, and this is where the economic and social damage to our county is seen with stark clarity. The rural services in villages is where we have some of our highest pockets of elderly residents – their bus is their lifeline to the outside world and for many, it is their only option.

“I used to work as a care assistant going into people’s homes to care for them and I know from that experience and from what people told us in meetings, that if they lose the bus, their world shrinks. They can no longer get out see friends or do their local shop and that is the steady decline of losing one’s independence.”

Ms Owen said the proposed service cuts would have a dramatic effect on the Hastings and Rye economy and warned they would devastate some areas, particular those that rely on tourism, shift workers and businesses that need footfall from bus passengers.

Following her speech, Councillor John Hodges, Labour’s transport spokesman at the county council, proposed a motion calling on the council’s cabinet to reject the proposed cuts to subsidised buses when it meets to vote on the proposals on December 16.

His motion was carried, as 25 voted in favour, 21 voted against.