Councillors grilled over support for campaign to restore cut bus services
PUBLISHED: 08:20 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:11 10 October 2019
Edward Starr Photographer
City councillors were quizzed over their support for a campaign to return bus services to an under served area of Norwich.
Bus services from the Heigham Road and Old Palace Road area of the city were cut from every 20 minutes, to 10 a day, and have now dwindled to just five.
At a meeting of Norwich city council cabinet on Wednesday, October 12, Labour county councillor Danny Douglas grilled representatives over their support for a campaign to reinvest in the area's public transport.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Savid Javid announced a package of funding proposed to boost roads, buses and broadband.
The cash injection promised by the government includes an additional £30 million earmarked for investment in existing bus routes and restoring lost services that were cut in previous local government austerity measures.
Mr Douglas, who represents Mancroft ward, said: "The government has announced that they will fund the return of bus services that have been cut as part of austerity.
"Does the city council leader support the community in its initiative to get the county council to investigate the return of a seven day a week high frequency bus service to Heigham Street and Old Palace Road area with the funds provided?"
In response, chairman Alan Waters said: "The council will obviously wish to support communities in Norwich that wish to see the return of subsidies to the local bus services.
"The £30m that appears to have been announced - who knows what money means these days when it comes out of the mouths of politicians - is to be spent on improving existing routes and replacing cancelled routes."
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Mr Waters, a Labour councillor, added: "There's been no announcement of how such funding will be allocated and how much ends up with Norfolk county council remains to be seen.
"I believe we need to continue to invest in good public transport.
And sustainable development cabinet member Mike Stonard said supporting bus services was "on the agenda" of Norwich's Transforming Cities application, which could see up to £17m granted to improve roads, highways and transport infrastructure in the area.
"[A share of] £30m isn't going to scratch the surface," he added.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Douglas added: "This road in Norwich has lost a service which ran every 20 minutes. It was cut to ten a day and now to five a day."
He described the portion of his ward as an area of social inclusion and said nearby estates were affected by drug problems.
"You've got the highest area in the county of people with mobility issues," he added.
"There was an evening and weekend service and people now have to work through the dark to get to bus services into the city.
"Nobody wants to walk north, because there's a drug problem on Marriot's Way.
"Now they have to walk - and it's not far but for these people it's a long way."