Full details of Norfolk bus changes revealed

Cuts to bus routes and timetable changes that will affect thousands of passengers across Norfolk have been unveiled.

Numerous routes across Norfolk are affected by the plans.

Norfolk County Council put a positive light on the changes as news emerged they were also to receive �480,000 from government to fund community transport projects.

However, transport campaigners greeted the news with dismay.

Denise Carlo, chairman of the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group (NNTAG), said the move was unwise and added: 'It's terrible news.'

The council announced that the Ambassador 731 service from Rackheath to Great Yarmouth via Acle, Stokesby and Filby will only run as a college service from April 10.

The Anglian 002 from Rockland St Mary to Loddon will be withdrawn completely from April 3, due to low passenger numbers.

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The Simonds 336 service from East Harling to Garboldisham will also withdrawn from March 31.

The 45 coach from Foulden to Watton will cease to run on Wednesdays, while the First 1 from Martham to Caister, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will run only every two hours in evenings.

The NJE Taxi Link service from Bacton to North Walsham will also be cut due to low passenger numbers.

A host of other services were also reduced in frequency or had their routes shortened to cut out some towns and villages.

The council said in a statement that the changes were due to a reduction in funding from central government, and that some alterations were also due to industry cost pressures.

Daniel Yellop, a transport official from Norfolk County Council, said there were several reasons behind the cuts, which reflected passenger demand on services.

'Probably at this moment it's a secondary factor that we need to save money from our budget, but I wouldn't say that's a driving factor,' he said.

'There's not that many people travelling on some services and we just need to tighten up a little bit. 'I don't think there's any examples where the only service in the village is gone,' he added.

But Ms Carlo, added: 'We've been led to understand that the county council was not going to make major cuts to bus services and obviously this flies in the face of that.

'It means that people can't travel around by bus, so if you haven't got a car they can't travel where you need to go.

'The county council has said it wants to cut transport carbon emissions by 25pc by 2020. Goodness knows how they're going to do that now.'

One Norwich resident, Danny Douglas, recently launched a not-for-profit transport group called Go Ride and said that he hoped to enter negotiations about taking on some evening and weekend services in the county, but that negotiations had not yet begun.

'We're very interested in services that county councils are dropping, particularly the evening and Sunday services,' he said.

'What the councils are doing is withdrawing their subsidies on any services outside of the day.

'For young people and working people it's not good at all,' he added.

Sophie Allain, bus campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, agreed that the cuts would have an impact on many Norfolk residents.

'We understand councils are under pressure to make savings, but bus cuts are a false economy once you take into consideration the knock-on effects of reduced mobility and will lead to more money being spent elsewhere, for example in welfare and social care,' she said.

The government announced more than �10m of new funding for community transport in rural areas yesterday and pledged more to Norfolk than any other county in the UK.

It was announced this morning that the money would be distributed around the country to provide transport to a range of centres and services including schools, hospitals and clinics and youth clubs, which will go some way to offsetting the reduction in bus services.

Norfolk has been promised �480,511, more than any other county, while Suffolk was given �362,143.

Norman Baker MP, minister for regional and local transport, said the money was intended to 'kick-start the development of community transport services'.

* For a full list of changes and cuts to timetables click on the link at the top of the next column.