Norfolk CC bus cuts revealed & consultation launched

Proposed changes in rural transport services, aimed at saving £500,000 next year (2012-13), are being published today (Thursday 29th) by Norfolk County Council for consultation with passengers and local communities.

Pressure on the rural transport budget has become intense because of reductions in Government grant for public transport, and the Government's failure to fully fund the Concessionary Travel scheme, with a £4.5m shortfall this year (2011-12). Norfolk County Council this week (26 September) launched a 'Fair Fares' campaign to secure a better deal from the Government, and people being asked to comment on the reductions in services are also being invited to sign the Fair Fares petition.

The County Council has to cut £700,000* from its rural transport budget as the council looks for overall savings of nearly £75m over the next two years (2012-13 and 2013-14). £500,000 must be found from rural transport support in 2012-13, with the remaining £200,000 in 2013-14.

The council has been working closely with bus operators to minimise the impact of the £500,000 in savings needed next year. As a result of this work, significant savings have been possible without a direct effect on journeys, and almost all the service reductions are limited to Sundays and evenings. Altogether 143 financially supported services were investigated, with 126 unaffected. The 17 affected services spread across the county (details below) have been chosen after taking account of factors including passenger numbers, their income and car ownership levels, age range and social background. Other considerations include the importance of the route for work or education, the availability of alternative transport, and the possibility of the service being run commercially or at reduced subsidy.

Graham Plant, Cabinet member for planning and transportation said: "We recognise the importance of rural buses to the communities they serve, which is why we have scaled back the savings from £1m to £700,000 over two years, with £500,000 next year (2012-13). "The fact that only 17 services are directly affected is a testament to the amount of work that has gone into minimising the impact on passengers and communities. This has only been possible with the excellent support and cooperation we have received from bus operators. Any cut in service is bound to be bad news for some people, but we have done our best to choose routes and times where the journeys being lost are not critical. Of course there may be consequences we are unaware of, which is why it is so important that we hear from anyone directly affected by these proposals."

Consultation roadshows have been organised to give people the chance to find out more and register their views. They will also be invited to support the Fair Fares concessionary travel funding campaign by signing the petition.

Roadshows will be held from 11am to 2pm as follows:

4 October - Cromer Bus Station
6 October - Great Yarmouth Market Place
12 October - The Forum, Norwich
18 October - Tuesday Market Place, King's Lynn
19 October - South Norfolk House, Long Stratton

The consultation can be filled in online at www norfolk.gov.uk Printed copies will be available in libraries. The consultation runs until the end of November. The County Council will then review its proposals before making final recommendations for inclusion in the 2012-13 budget.

Recommended changes to routes are as follows...

1/2/118 Diss to Norwich via Long Stratton
No evening or Sunday service from Diss to Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7pm) journeys from Long Stratton to Norwich.

5 Holt to North Walsham via Cromer
Fewer Sunday journeys from October to May.

5A North Walsham to Norwich via Coltishall
Fewer Sunday journeys.

9/X8 Holt to King's Lynn via Fakenham
No winter Sunday services.

44 Sheringham & Cromer to Norwich via Aylsham
Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7pm) journeys.

6/7 Belton and Bradwell to Great Yarmouth
Fewer evening (after 7pm) journeys.

10B Norwich to Mulbarton via Lakenham
Fewer Sunday and evening (after 8pm) journeys.

14B Norwich to Wymondham via Hethersett
Fewer Sunday and evening (after 8pm) journeys.

10B Norwich to Mulbarton via Lakenham
Fewer Sunday and evening (after 8pm) journeys.

121 Eaton Village to Norwich
No Sunday service.

581 Beccles to Great Yarmouth via Burgh St Peter Wheatacre, Burgh St Peter and Aldeby to be served by alternative pre-booked transport.

587 Norwich to Poringland via Stoke Holy Cross
Fewer Sunday services.

588 Halesworth to Norwich via Bungay
Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7.30pm) journeys.

Norfolk Green
King's Lynn town services
Fewer late night (after 9pm) services.

Coasthopper Hunstanton - Wells - Sheringham - Cromer
Fewer services from October to March.

King's Lynn Ferry
West Lynn to King's Lynn
Fewer crossings.