Ruffley calls First Managing Director to House of Commons to discuss Howard Estate bus routes

Tuesday, 7 July, 2009

David Ruffley MP has this week asked the Managing Director of First Buses, Alan Pilbeam, to come to the House of Commons to discuss residents' concerns over the bus service covering the Howard Estate in Bury St Edmunds.

When Asda opened in the town residents in the area, led by Ernie Broom Chairman of the Over-60s group, had hoped a bus service would be introduced to link the Howard Estate to the new supermarket. Instead, Section 106 money was used to subsidise a bus service linking the Moreton Hall Estate to Asda and the new Public Service Village.

David said:

'When Asda opened residents on the Howard Estate, quite rightly, thought that adequate public transport would be put in place to enable them to do their weekly shop at the store. Instead, for reasons I'm yet to establish, Section 106 money from Asda was used by the Borough Council to fund a route linking Asda, their new Public Service Village and the Moreton Hall Estate.

'I accept that there is a need for easy access to the new PSV but this shouldn't come at the expense of the needs of Howard Estate residents. They and I fought long and hard to get this store open in Bury St Edmunds and now it is seemingly very difficult for them to get there. While geographically it is a reasonably short distance from the Howard Estate to Asda, the hill on Beetons Way is one of the steepest in the town and the many elderly residents in the area can't be expected to walk up and down weighed down with shopping.

'Therefore, I have written to the Managing Director of First Buses, Alan Pilbeam, asking him to meet with me at the House of Commons to try to hammer out a solution to this problem. It seems to me quite feasible to extend either the 81 or 82 bus routes as requested by local residents.

'I am aware that a meeting is scheduled for mid August but local residents and I feel that this matter should not be allowed to drag on.

'It is all very well building new supermarkets but people need to be able to get there. Environmental issues and climate change are now, quite correctly, at the top of the political agenda- we need to get people out of their cars and this will only happen if they have a viable alternative.'