East Sussex bus cuts approved despite protests

East Sussex bus campaigners Image copyright Hastings and Rye Labour Party
Image caption Campaigners against the bus cuts have held demonstrations, including one before the cabinet meeting

Cuts to bus services in East Sussex designed to save £1.88m have been approved despite a campaign to prevent the changes going ahead.

Protesters against the cuts, which will remove 11 subsidised routes, gathered outside East Sussex County Council's (ESCC) cabinet meeting in Lewes.

Labour opposition councillors said the Conservative cabinet ignored a 7,000-strong petition against the cuts.

The council said 91% of passengers on East Sussex buses would be unaffected.

Frequency cut

The majority of bus services in the county are run by companies on a commercial basis, mostly along the coast and between major towns.

The cuts affect subsidised routes and Dial-a-Ride, which will be cut from seven days a week to Monday to Friday.

Other routes will be removed completely or reduced in frequency.

A total of 23 previously subsidised services will be taken on as commercial routes by bus operators.

Fare increases of up to 30% have also been approved.

Image caption Buses serving the coast routes and linking major towns are run on a commercial basis

A meeting of the full council earlier this month recommended rejecting the cuts but the cabinet has decided to implement them from April 2015.

Labour's transport spokesman Councillor John Hodges told the meeting alternative savings could be made by cutting out inefficiencies.

"The public said no, the full council said not. Leave our public services intact for those that depend on them," he said.

ESCC said it was protecting peak services, those used by school and college students and residents needing access to essential services.

"We have the unenviable task of finding millions of pounds worth of savings and have to review every service to ensure our limited budget is being used in the most effective way," said Councillor Carl Maynard.

"We felt the proposals minimised the impact of changes on the residents of East Sussex and offered best value for money for all taxpayers."

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