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Bus cash cuts in West Norfolk ‘could take us back to 1980s’

Council plan to invest in Norfolk's future.
Council plan to invest in Norfolk's future.

Communities could be set back decades if money that subsidises rural bus services is cut, councillors have been warned.

The comment is contained within the findings of a consultation into proposed Norfolk County Council budget measures, which are due to be debated today.

The authority is proposing to reduce support for bus services by £500,000.

But some critics fear the measures, if implemented, could hit communities in West Norfolk particularly hard.

More than 1,100 people responded to a public consultation on the bus issue, the findings of which will be considered by the county council’s environment, development and transport committee this morning.

Reports published ahead of the meeting show most comments opposed the idea of cuts, raising issues ranging from social isolation to the environmental impact of extra cars using the roads.

One respondent said: “I must insist this vital lifeline is maintained.

“We must not return to the mess of the 1980s when services were a waste of time and 20 years of establishing a reliable network of connecting bus services are going to be destroyed.”

Another said: “If you cut the Community Car service and Community Bus service to Stanhoe we should have no way of getting to the doctor or hospital or for food shopping if we did not drive. I should be isolated myself.”

But others argued it was good practice to review the funding given to services periodically.

They said the exercise could mean public money was spent more wisely, though there were calls for any subsequent action to be the subject of a further consultation.

Separate consultations were also carried out on issues including plans to reduce road maintenance cover and winter gritting of some routes.

The report said safety concerns were raised over both proposals, adding: “Some respondents expressed their view that road gritting should be a priority for funding over increasing members’ expenses.”

However, the total number of responses was far fewer than those for the bus plans.

The measures are part of wider budgetary plans which could see the county’s portion of council tax rise by nearly six per cent this year.

Final proposals are due to be set next month.

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