Cuts will stop people leaving their homes

The city branch of Chichester Labour Party would like to comment on the recently-published proposals to reduce the evening and Sunday bus services.

Our comments are particularly concerned with the routes in the Chichester city area.

The loss of Route 51 to Selsey will mean more than 10,000 residents, and many holidaymakers, could be isolated in that settlement; and the loss of Routes 52 and 53 will similarly prevent another 7,000 people from leaving their home town in the Witterings and Birdham without adding to the congestion on busy roads.

The loss of Route 55, serving Boxgrove and Tangmere, on Sundays and in the evenings, will cut off another couple of thousand ratepayers; and mean fewer visitors (especially fewer holidaymakers) to the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum; as well as limiting access to St Richard’s Hospital on Sunday, such a popular visitors’ day.

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum offers a discount to bus ticket holders, so they will not have so many visitors on Sundays if Route 60 is cut on that day; as well as compelling another 7,000 people living in the Lavant valley to use their cars.

On a wider theme, our speakers were concerned:

There would be more use of cars, which was felt to be bad for the environment;

About road safety (and more accidents would mean higher insurance premiums for all motorists);

It would be more difficult for families, and especially older people, to keep in touch, and babysit, etc;

Fewer people would be able visit country areas, so there will be less trade for farm shops, neighbourhood pubs, which could lead to the loss of these vital but not viable local amenities;

More people are taking holidays in this country, which is financially good for Great Britain. But instead of taking advantage of this boost to the national economy, West Sussex County Council is deterring visitors from seeing the wonders of, and perhaps going to a service in, the cathedral, or exploring our countryside by bus.

It is ironic that at the bus surgery on May 20, reflective armbands were offered to potential passengers so bus drivers could see them hailing the bus in the dark evenings – just before cutting out evening services!

Ben Earnshaw-Mansell

city branch of Chichester Labour Party