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Sudbury to Hadleigh bus service saved from cuts after subsidy funding agreed until end of 2023





An under-threat bus service has received a temporary lifeline until the end of the year – but with a warning to passengers that it was a case of “use it or lose it”.

Suffolk County Council agreed to subsidise the Beestons 91 bus between Sudbury and Hadleigh through to December 2023, following uproar over impending cuts to the service.

The bus company previously announced its intention to discontinue this portion of the 91 bus route on Saturdays, as of July 24, citing a “significant decrease” in passenger numbers.

Beestons will continue to run the 91 bus service to and from Sudbury, via subsidy funding from Suffolk County Council. Picture: Mark Westley.
Beestons will continue to run the 91 bus service to and from Sudbury, via subsidy funding from Suffolk County Council. Picture: Mark Westley.

But, in response to concerns about the impact on rural residents between Sudbury and Hadleigh, the new funding will enable the route to temporarily continue.

However, at a Sudbury Town Council meeting last week, members suggested that alternatives needed to be explored, such as a hopper bus serving those villages, after questioning the long-term viability of the 91 line.

Cllr Tim Regester told the meeting he had spoken to a 91 bus driver who recorded just five passengers between Sudbury and Hadleigh on one Saturday in June.

He said: “There is a subsidy put in place until December 2023, on the basis of ‘use it or lose it’.

“Either we promote that bus service so more people use it and make it viable, or we have to investigate talking to bus companies to do a hopper service covering Boxford.

“Beestons would consider a hopper bus, because they think there’s enough people going between Sudbury, Cornard and Boxford to make it worthwhile, but they don’t consider there are sufficient passengers to make Sudbury to Hadleigh viable.”

Cllr Andrew Welsh added: “I'm thinking we might be better off concentrating on this idea of a hopper service.

“Quite frankly, if I lived in Hadleigh, why would I want to come to Sudbury? I'd go to Ipswich.”

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge stated he was pleased to see the 91 service funded for another six months, highlighting it as a key issue raised by residents during a recent surgery in Edwardstone.

“Now that funding has been secured for the rest of the year, we have respite for the months ahead,” he said.

“Nevertheless, this remains a case of ‘use it or lose it’ – more people will have to consistently use the route to ensure its long-term survival.”