Hospitals losers in bus cuts

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Fighting cuts: the campaign logo of Sarah Owen, Labour's local parliamentary candidate

Details of proposed cuts to subsidised bus services in the Rye area have been published by the Hastings and Rye Labour Party. These include ending the Sunday service to Rye Harbour, restricting Dial-A-Ride in Rye to Wednesdays and Saturdays, and cutting the 326 town service back to Tuesdays and Fridays.

The 344 and 312 services to Hastings and Tenterden will be cut to every two hours off peak, as will the 340 and 341 (between Tenterden/Northiam and Hastings) , and the 342 will lose one journey. The Sunday services on the 344 between Northiam and Hastings via Rye will also be cut.

These cuts will affect people travelling to both the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and Rye’s Memorial Hospital, which may in turn increase pressure on Dial-A-Ride services.

Sarah Owen, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Hastings and the local Labour Party have launched a major campaign against these proposed cuts, and Rye Community Transport plans to challenge the 326 and Dial-A-Ride cuts in particular (see story) .

Conservative-run East Sussex County Council is seeking to axe or reduce a number of evening and weekend bus services across the county. Many of these buses connect rural and hard-to-reach communities with nearby towns and hospitals

Across the county, 99 different bus routes are affected by the proposals. The county council appears to have chosen to target Hastings and Rye for the most serious service reductions. Sixty per cent of the severe cuts are to services operated in this constituency.

Owen fears communities will become isolated: “These bus routes are a lifeline to huge parts of Hastings, Rye and our villages, which is why we will be campaigning hard to protect them. People rely on our bus services to get about town, to work and to school. There are alternatives to reducing the support for these routes which wouldn’t be so damaging to our local economy, businesses and the community.

“I would urge that the Conservatives in charge of these decisions work with us to find a way to keep the wheels on our buses turning, without handing down further cuts from Lewes and this Government, which doesn’t continue to disproportionately impact on people in and around Hastings.”

A petition against the changes is available online.

The county council’s consultation runs until September 28 and is available in libraries and on buses and also online.