Packed meeting sees anger over bus proposals

Hollington residents this week voiced their objection over East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) proposed changes to the town’s bus services.

A public meeting was held on Tuesday (August 26) at Tile Barn Community Centre in which more than 50 people attended.

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, was joined by councillors Phil Scott and Emily Westley at the latest Don’t Stop Our Bus event.

She said: “We live in a town where shift workers, elderly residents and tourists rely on a seven-day service. We live in an area of the south east that has comparably low car ownership. The county council does not seem to appreciate how this will affect vulnerable and elderly residents.

“If you cannot get around town and visit people, your support network will invariably diminish. Isolation is an inevitability. It’s short-sighted to cut off a lifeline for so many people.”

Terry Steeples, who runs Friends of the Old People cafe in Middle Street in the town centre, said: “Many of my regular customers come from across the town and as far away as Rye and Pett but if this goes ahead they just won’t be able to come.

“What type of message is this sending to our older people? If you can’t afford to travel by taxi, stay at home? It’s just not good enough.”

Cllr Scott said: “These proposals will prevent many, many people from being able to leave their houses at the weekend. Hospital visits will be near-on impossible for lots of us, businesses will suffer, people will be prevented from attending clubs and social events. These are totally unacceptable proposals.”

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.

Councillor Carl Maynard, ESCC’s lead member for transport and environment, said: “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.”