On the Buses (contd)

Hadleigh Bus Station d

Last May I reported how together with three “partners in crime” we had persuaded Suffolk County Council to reinstate the evening and Sunday bus service between Hadleigh and Ipswich.
The service was restored on a pilot basis on the 20th August and since then we have encouraged everyone to use the service whether it be for the cinema, shopping, education or participating in the evening economy. On Friday we learned that the pilot has been successful and that the service will be reinstated until February 2014.
For the time being we can rest easy about the people of Hadleigh being connected to Ipswich and beyond. The service still needs to be used because as always it’s a case of use it or lose it.
Success can be seen in many ways. In addition to the “official purposes” the bus service enhances people’s lives in unexpected ways. One Sunday user told me that “…it lets me visit my mum in her Ipswich nursing home.” And one bus driver told recently that romance blooms as young swains can now get back from courting their  inamoratas.
The late evening and week end bus service is a success at so many levels.


On the Buses

For some time, Simon Wills, Shelley Pingo, Kathryn Grandon and I have been agitating for Suffolk County Council to restore the subsidy which was previously given to the later evening bus services from Ipswich to Hadleigh. Simon provided the legal research and a lot of lobbying muscle, Shelley collected over 3,750 signatures and Kathryn & I provided our political skills and connections in getting the idea in front of the right people. The funding was withdrawn last year and the bus operator stopped operating the service. Since that time Hadleigh has faced an evening curfew and has been marooned on Sundays and Bank Holidays.  On these days we could be a desert island as far as public transport collectively is concerned. This has had social, educative, community and economic consequences for Hadleigh. Our residents have no local train options, entertainment options or higher education options.  To take the train, visit the cinema, attend college and many other things residents have to visit Ipswich.  And if that involves a journey after 6 p.m., they are stuck.  Such opportunities are open to those who have access to a car. Suffolk County Council allowed us to speak to the Council on Thursday. I was delegated to do the deliver my speech of a lifetime. Thankfully the Council had listened to our earlier presentations and have agreed to a trial six month restoration of the later evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services. This will aid economic recovery , enhance sustainable growth and plug the social gaps.
Because whether you are in catering, retail, hospitality, leisure, medical or manufacturing work patterns require you to be able to get home after six fifteen in the evening! We need the bus service – otherwise we are cut off from economic development, educational opportunity and enhanced leisure activity. Thankfully from August onwards we shall be back on the road after 6.15 in the evenings.
Well done, Suffolk County Council.
Simon Wills, ShelleyPingo, Kathryn Grandon, Brian Riley