East Sussex County Council Cabinet members have decided to consult on drastic cuts proposed for rural bus routes. Their plans include reducing daily village bus services to a mere twice weekly instead of daily, and higher bus fares.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre has frequently criticised the council for failing to opt in to national initiatives including grants to improve road junctions, reducing fuel costs by using electric or hybrid vehicles, as well as ignoring local proposals to synchronise bus and train timetables at stations like Cooksbridge to reduce the number of car journeys and relieve pressure on car parks, such as the one at Lewes station.
Cllr St Pierre says: “Rural life has changed significantly, many people are now forced to work outside the 9am to 5pm routine. Current estimates suggest rural families are now £5,000 per year worse off than those living in towns, partly because of transport costs.
“Vulnerable people, the sick and elderly not only face rural isolation, but also serious obstacles travelling for doctors and hospital appointments. This proposed reduction in rural bus services will have a further, very severe impact on people.”
Norman Baker MP added: “This very week East Sussex County Council is cutting home-to-school transport services, creating problems for pupils travelling in rural areas to schools such as Chailey, Lewes Priory and others. Furthermore, the effect on small to medium businesses makes the Council’s boast that they support East Sussex business sound hollow.”
Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has welcomed the latest tranche of money being made available by the government to tackle potholes. Locally, East Sussex will receive £1,443,474 to go towards covering the costs of much-needed pothole and surface repairs across the region and could fund 27,000 pothole repairs across the county.
£168 million of funding is being made available to 148 councils across the county to help fix three million potholes by March 2015. This is in addition to £183 million funding announced in March of this year to repair roads damaged by the winter severe weather, of which East Sussex was allocated £2,645,187.
Potholes are a blight that can damage cars, cause accidents and disrupt journeys and the coalition government is taking the issue very seriously.
Norman says: “This is a significant amount of money being made available to East Sussex and I hope to see proper long term repairs being made to the road network not a patchwork of quick fix measures that fall apart within weeks. With this substantial investment, the county council now has no excuse for its roads in future”
Local MP Norman Baker has for years been campaigning to outlaw the anti-social practice in the town but was originally told by the county council they had no powers to deal with it. He then, while transport minister, wrote to them to give them the powers they needed, but still no action followed. Now, following more pressure, the council looks likely to finally act.
In a letter to the MP, the council says: “A report will be presented to Lead Member meeting later this year outlining a process by which some localised restrictions could be introduced and enforced. High Street and School Hill in Lewes will be included in the assessment of that report”
Norman says: “This action is long overdue, but I am glad that it seems that the council is finally taking action. Only this week I have had a local resident contact me who had a nasty fall tripping on a broken pavement which required hospital treatment”
“For too long thoughtless drivers have been damaging paving stones, costing the council unnecessary expenditure at a time of tight budgets, and also forcing pedestrians out into the road.”
The MP has also asked the police to take action against pavement parkers when they come across them.
Efforts made by Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker to cut journey times to Lewes and Polegate have paid off with the announcement today that the new franchise will see a reduction in train splitting at Haywards Heath and a consequent shortened journey time, as well as improved reliaibility.
This change was a key ask made by Norman Baker when he was a transport minister, and was then picked up by others, including Eastbourne’s MP Stephen Lloyd.
Norman says: “I am delighted that my intervention has borne fruit and that journey times to my constituency from London are to be shortened, though I believe it should have been possible to shave ten minutes off rather than five. Nevertheless, this important timetable change, which takes effect from next year, will be welcomed by my constituents.”
Norman is now seeking an early meeting with the successful bidders Govia (the parent company of the present operator Southern) to press for further improvements:
- More daytime off-peak services for Cooksbridge station
- An extra late night train from London Victoria to Eastbourne at 23.17. There is presently a long gap between the 22.47 and the 00.05
- Rationalisation of the first class accommodation to reduce the number of such areas but improve the quality of what is left
- Support in preparing for the reopening of the Lewes-Uckfield line and the creation of a new Willingdon chord, allowing some services to bypass Eastbourne
- The addition of an extra four carriages to what are presently 4 or 8 car trains