I’m Rebecca Barkaway, Chair of the Coombe Road Area Local Action Team and I’m accompanied here today by Stephanie Hedger, Chair of Meadowview and Tenantry Community Action Group and Charles Titherley, caretaker of the Jewish Cemetary in Meadowview. We are here on behalf of the residents of Meadowview and Tenantry and the Coombe Road area to ask this committee to continue the subsidy for evening bus services to our areas and to make available further funding for a more regular bus service.
Residents in our area are struggling to live their lives: struggling to get to work, to school, to visit the doctor, go shopping, visit family and friends, to get to the train station and get into the city centre. Visitors are struggling to see friends and family, to access the cemetaries, to access support at Sussex Beacon and visit people living in the care home. This is all because of the changes to the bus service following the withdrawal of Brighton and Hove Buses no.38 bus which served Coombe Road and Meadowview twice an hour.
We acknowledge that Compass Travel has stepped in with the new 37 service although there have been ongoing concerns to which Chris Chatfield of Compass Travel has been responsive. But this service only provides one bus an hour up Coombe Road and then the hourly council funded 37B serves Bear Road.
Residents have been frustrated at the loss of a bus service which made living at the top of a very steep hill in an isolated community possible for those without cars. And now, residents are highly anxious and worried about the potential loss of an evening bus service when the subsidy ends later this year. 366 residents have expressed their concern through a 38-degree petition online.
Meadowview is peaceful, it has amazing views of surrounding countryside but it is isolated, at night it is dark and it is steep. Residents recall that planning permission for Meadowview and Tenantry was granted with the understanding that public transport would be maintained. People moved to the area because they could use the regular bus service to get to work, school and in order to access services.
Ending the evening service would leave residents in our communities feeling unsafe - residents are concerned for their children coming home in winter evenings having to walk on streets with low-level lighting. Residents feel that the regular buses improve the safety of their streets and residents in Meadowview have made the point that the regular bus route through the community provides a monitoring service in the evenings.
We need to keep the evening bus service.
181 residents have signed this petition to say that they need the evening bus service to be maintained. David Seidel, Head of the Board of governors of the Jewish cemetary has emphasised the importance of the bus service in terms of visitors to the cemetary and security.
We feel that our communities have been destroyed by the influx of Homes of Multiple Occupancy and all the consequences of living in an area which is over-populated with a disproportionately young demographic. And now our evening bus service is threatened, the withdrawal of this bus service will means that long-term council tax-paying residents will be unable to return from work and their children from school or to access citylife.
We need a more regular bus service up and down Coombe Road.
Our deputation makes reference to the vulnerabilities of residents in this area - we are a community which needs council resources in order for us to fully participate in this city. We are asking this committee to continue the subsidy for evening bus services to the Coombe Road area and Meadowview and Tenantry and to make available further funding for a more regular bus service.