Council support decision to make Southwold bus ban permanent

A controversial 'bus ban' in Southwold has a bright future after the town council supported a move to make it permanent.

Southwold Town Council voted last night (September 11 2012) in favour of keeping the trial scheme, which was introduced to curb congestion in High Street.

It came as the results of a public consultation revealed that of the 249 responses received, 145 were in favour of a permanent ban, 96 were against and eight were inconclusive.

Meanwhile, the town council also voted in favour of adopting a 10-seater shuttle bus from Suffolk County Council that would operate down High Street, near the harbour and the pier, if deemed financially viable by town council working groups. But councillors deferred a decision on where coaches should be allowed to operate outside of High Street for another six months.

Speaking about the trial bus ban, the deputy mayor of Southwold John Windell said: 'This year was the first time for a long time that the town hasn't felt congested.'

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The 18-month trial scheme – paid for with �10,000 of the town council's money and match-funded by Suffolk County Council – was designed to improve traffic flow by curbing the number of large vehicles travelling along High Street between Victoria Street and the Market Place.

However, councillor Robert Temple said it was also important to acknowledge the negative response by local businesses which rely on the custom of coach passengers.

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At a previous town council meeting it was revealed that a proposal had been made for a 10-seater shuttle bus, which would operate on a non-profit basis and cost �1,500 a year to run.

The idea was mooted as a potential solution for some passengers who had to walk further up High Street after the town centre bus stop was moved from outside Chapman's News to the King's Head.

The results of a public consultation on the trial bus scheme also revealed that of the 249 responses, 140 were from Southwold and 109 were from non Southwold residents. The trial scheme is due to run until January.

A final decision on its future will be made by Suffolk County Council.

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