Hundreds sign petition saying Norfolk bus subsidies must be saved from axe

File photo of buses in North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

File photo of buses in North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

More than 500 people have added their names to a petition calling on County Hall bosses not to cut subsidies for bus services, amid fears the loss of services could isolate vulnerable people.

Norfolk County Council has been consulting over a potential £500,000 cut to the £2.7m subsidy it gives bus operators and community transport providers, as it wrestles with ways to plug a £125m spending gap.

The consultation has finished and next week, the councillors on the environment, development and transport committee will consider whether to recommend that full council makes that saving when it comes to setting the budget next month.

However, the proposals has been criticised. Charles Sanders, who runs Holt-based Sanders Coaches, said it could lead to some bus routes being cancelled, leaving people 'marooned' in villages.

Age Space, which offers online support and advice about care for older people, set up an online petition against the cuts, signed by more than 500 people so far.


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Helen Burgess, regional manager for Age Space, said: 'Many people expressed their worries about not being able to get to medical appointments, to the shops for food or to get to clubs and activities. However, the underlying fear is one of increased isolation.

'We know that in terms of older people's health, isolation can be more dangerous than smoking. Indeed, this is a key message the council have pushed as part of their own In Good Company loneliness campaign.

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'The long term effect of these potential cuts could be disastrous as it will undoubtedly increase pressure on the health and social care services.

'The final decision regarding the funding cuts is not being made until February, so it's important we continue to raise awareness and encourage people to sign the petition and show their support.'

A Norfolk County Council spokeswoman said the council was grateful for everyone who had contributed to the consultation and said: 'We remain determined to deliver the best services for the people of Norfolk with the funding available to us. All the views expressed will be reported to councillors in the next few weeks before the council meets next month to set a budget for the coming year.'

The petition can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y7wo7pzm

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