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Frustrated villagers descend on bus meeting to complain about cuts to services

PUBLISHED: 07:30 25 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:09 26 November 2018

Villagers had their say about the cut bus route at the Norfolk Bus Forum public meeting. Photo: Bethany Wales

Villagers had their say about the cut bus route at the Norfolk Bus Forum public meeting. Photo: Bethany Wales

Archant

Frustrated residents have rallied at a public meeting, following news a bus service in their village would be cut.

On Saturday morning, members of the public packed the Forum auditorium in Norwich for the Norfolk Bus Forum’s annual public meeting, hoping to have their say on the county’s public transport services.

The public discussion was dominated by residents from Stoke Holy Cross, angry at bus company Konectbus for withdrawing its bus service in the village. The 87 Konectbus service, which runs between Norwich, Poringland and Bungay, is due to be withdrawn in January because of “continuing unsustainable losses”.

Stoke Holy Cross parish councillor Glyn Davies said residents were already struggling to get into the city centre.

The village is facing major growth in the coming years, with 150 new houses allocated for the area.

Mr Davies argued that part of the reason Stoke Holy Cross had been chosen for development was the well-served bus route connecting the village to Norwich.

He said: “It’s just not right. Most people in Stoke, Caistor, Poringland and Trowse work and go to school in Norwich. If you reduce the bus service people will drive in and our little road will get even more congested. People in Stoke are very concerned about this.”

First buses will take over the former Konectbus route on January 6, rerouting the 41 and 41A service to include one bus per hour operating via Upper Stoke and Stoke Holy Cross.

But Chris Speed, operations manager for First bus, said there would not be enough bus users to justify putting more services in place until the proposed houses were occupied.

As well as concerns about the reduced timetable, residents complained about buses being late and lack of information about delayed or cancelled services.

Steve Royal, operations manager for Konectbus, apologised for the “embarrassing service” provided by the company in recent months and said the company had been under extreme pressure.

He said: “We simply struggle to operate our services correctly. I’ve got an exceptionally good team of control staff and support staff at the bus station and our customer service is excellent.”

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