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Norton petition starts after 'important' bus service reduced



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A charity shop volunteer worker from Norton has started a petition after finding a ‘lifeline’ bus service for the village has been reduced.

David Flannigan and neighbour Dianne Smith have started a petition to get the Stephensons of Essex bus company to bring back the 385 Bury St Edmunds service’s 7am village stop and the return 6.45pm journey, which stopped on Tuesday.

David said he found out about the change last week when he got off the bus from his job at the Mind charity shop, on Cornhill, in Bury.

David Flannigan hopes the petition he has started with neighbour Dianne Smith can get the cut service reinstated. Picture by Richard Marsham
David Flannigan hopes the petition he has started with neighbour Dianne Smith can get the cut service reinstated. Picture by Richard Marsham

He said: “There has been no reason why they are stopping it and I only found out about it through the driver.

“This service is used by some NHS nurses to get to the hospital, workers to get into town and students going to college or doing work experience. This will hurt them all.”

Dianne said they had around 200 signatures already and that villagers had been supportive of what they are doing.

She said: “It is so important in rural areas to have a regular bus service, this was one of the reasons I moved to Norton.

“It is such a lifeline for me and so many others we have spoken to and with a rising elderly population in the village, as well as children growing up to college age, it will be needed even more in the future.”

Though Stephensons and Suffolk County Council both said they did not comment on particular routes, a council spokesman, said: “We are in discussion with Stephensons specifically about contracts relating to school transport for local students. Those discussions are ongoing.”

The service reduction comes as the Women’s Institute launched a national ‘Get on Board’ campaign to ensure local communities have the bus services they need.

The organisation said findings of a recent survey from 2,500 respondents showed that less than one-in-five living in rural areas have access to a frequent, reliable bus service.

And a quarter said they felt more isolated and socially excluded because of this.

Ann Jones, chair of The National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said: “Bus services play a vital role in ensuring communities remain sustainable, helping to reduce social isolation and carbon emissions, and ensure access to employment, education, local facilities and health services.

“Our WI ‘Get on Board’ campaign seeks to raise awareness of the importance of local bus services and the impact of cuts on communities – and we need more to join us.”

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk