Bus services to top Suffolk tourism hotspot cut as summer begins

Anglian Bus route.

Anglian Bus route. - Credit: Nick Butcher

As one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, Southwold attracts thousands of summertime visitors.

Yet just as the tourist season begins to reach its peak, buses to the Suffolk coastal town are being cut – causing concern about the effect on tourism, as well as residents.

Anglian Bus said its 61 service will stop calling at Southwold 'due to competition issues and economic realities'. But John Perkins, from the Southwold and Reydon Society, said: 'It's very bad news as an awful lot of people in the Southwold and Reydon area depend on public transport.

'There is a large elderly population who use the service. These cuts will have a bigger impact in this area than in most.'

The service, which currently runs between Great Yarmouth and Southwold will no longer travel south of Kessingland, meaning the villages of Wrentham, Wangford and Reydon will also be affected. Other services will continue operating in the area.

East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA), which represents public transport users in the region, met the announcement with dismay, and called upon Suffolk County Council (SCC) to take action.

ESTA chairman, Trevor Garrod, writing to transport chief, James Finch, warned that with the cuts coming in the middle of the holiday season, they will affect 'not only local people but also visitors to the area'.

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'As public transport users, we at ESTA find this a most unsatisfactory situation, doubly so because our association actively encourages the use of bus services to and from Southwold for the many summer visitors as well as local people,' he added.

ESTA initially thought the cuts would mean no Sunday or bank holiday services to the town.

However it had since been confirmed that First Eastern Counties will operate its 99 service, from Lowestoft to Southwold, on Sundays.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: 'The changes to be made to the service are by Anglian Bus and Coach and are entirely commercially motivated decisions.

'We did point out that the peak season for tourism was ahead and that there was merit in maintaining the services until a later date.'

SCC said First Eastern Counties' proposals to run hourly Sunday services on the 99 route had been supported by the Traffic Commissioner allowing it to begin on July 24.

'Southwold, Wrentham and Reydon will all be served,' the spokesman added.

Peter Lee, interim business manager at Anglian Bus, said: 'It was a hard decision, which we appreciate is not going to be popular with some people, but at the end of the day we are a commercial operation and we have to run the business accordingly.'