More than 290 people have signed a petition urging East Sussex County Council to rethink proposals which could see changes to buses in rural areas.
Campaigners fear that the subsidy to bus companies could be reduced, which will in turn reduce services to villages in rural areas.
One of the potentially affected routes is the 143 operated by Compass Travel, which runs to Eastbourne, Hailsham and Lewes from Deanland Wood Retirement Park and other areas in the parish of Chalvington with Ripe. If the subsidy is withdrawn, campaigners claim the service will be reduced to twice daily and the later services would cease which could mean no return bus from Eastbourne. A petition with 291 residents signatures from Deanland was delivered to County Councillor Nick Bennett at County Hall in Lewes on Thursday (September 25) by members of Chalvington with Ripe Parish Council. A spokesman for the parish council which opposes the plans said: “We accept that the county council needs to make budget savings. We also acknowledge that apparently the bus company has reinstated some of the proposed service cuts that affect Deanland which will be some small improvement. However this in no way addresses the issue of people without cars getting to work nor of young people attending college, job interviews or apprenticeships. It is essential that there are bus services from our parish that enable people to connect hubs like Ringmer, ensuring they can get to work/go to college in Brighton, Uckfield, Lewes, Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne.”
A spokesman for the county council said: “It is important to remember that no decision has been made on changes to subsidised bus services. A 12 week consultation has just ended and the council is currently reviewing the responses it has received. This feedback, together with other information including the Equality Impact Assessment, will be taken into account and in December the council’s cabinet will be asked to consider recommendations for the reformulated supported bus network.
“The draft proposals provide peak time access to education and employment, and would ensure that over 95 per cent of current passenger would still have access to a service six days a week. Around 91 per cent of all current bus would be unaffected.”