Cancelled bus route a danger to mental health, say village campaigners
PUBLISHED: 17:29 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 05 November 2019
A cancelled bus route is making residents of a Suffolk village more isolated damaging their mental health and wellbeing say campaigners who are fighting for their stop to be reinstated.
More than 500 people have signed a petition for the 88/89 bus, which takes passengers from Ipswich through Needham Market to Stowmarket and back, to stop off at Bramford, which was dropped a major shake up by bus company First Eastern Counties cut out the village from the route.
Residents are now reporting that since the important transport route was stopped on September 1, many who live in the village have become more isolated and have been forced to rely on taxis and lifts from friends to get to shops, activities and doctors appointments.
Angela Morgan, who has lived in the village for two years, said: "Bramford is quite a big village and a lot of the houses in the area are bungalows. It is a retirement community so hundreds of people rely on the bus to not only get to Ipswich but to Needham Market and Stowmarket at well.
"It's a group of people who can be lonely and isolated and the bus stopping has just added to that isolation.
"Its really about people's wellbeing, its about mental health. Residents can't get to doctors appointments and counselling or to groups.
"Also it is about the environment. The traffic has been much worse since the bus was stopped. I've had to get taxis or lifts anywhere I go. My carbon footprint has gone through the roof."
MORE: Sign the petition to reinstate the number 88/89 bus here
Despite the bus route stopping, there is one other service which visits the village, the 111 which is run by Ipswich Buses, but it only takes passengers to Ipswich three times a day at 7.57am, 2.22pm and 5.12pm. It does not go to Stowmarket.
Miss Morgan added: "People moved to Bramford because of its connections to Ipswich and Stowmarket. I know someone who moved here for that exact reason two months before there bus was stopped.
"There are hundreds of people who are stranded every week."
The cancelled busses are also affecting those in surrounding villages.
Councillor Zac Norman, Babergh District Councillor for Sproughton and Pinewood ward said that many in Sproughton are dependant on the 89 bus as well.
"We currently have an awful bus service through our village and therefore many of us opt to get the bus from Bramford into town instead," he said.
"We in Sproughton are so car dependant and losing the 89 bus is just another reason why we will all have to drive and now Bramford is meeting the same fate.
"Whilst money is tight, we really are losing some of our village assets of which a bus route should be included."
Chris Speed, Head of operations at First Ipswich, said: "The changes we introduced in September were to meet the demands of customers using services across our Ipswich bus network.
"Unfortunately due to very few people using our 88/89 services to and from Bramford village, we had to make the difficult decision to withdraw the journeys serving this area as the service was not sustainable without any financial support".