Labour is being asked to U-turn on planned cuts at Brighton & Hove City Council to two much-loved local bus routes by Green councillors who argue axing services to Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon risks cutting people off from the South Downs.
The Labour-run council is being asked to U-turn on planned cuts to two much-loved local bus routes by Green councillors who argue axing services to Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon risks cutting people off from the South Downs.
Plans to end a £58,000 subsidy for the 77 route to Devil’s Dyke and the 79 route to Ditchling Beacon have been included among more than £20million in cuts planned by Labour. If – as expected – the plans are approved, it would mean the 77 service would be reduced to just one bus an hour at weekends and an end to the 79 route’s summer service.
Local campaign group Brighton Active Travel (BAT) has already criticised the plans, which it argues will disproportionately impact local people on low incomes. BAT has labelled the cuts as “a bizarre own goal” by Labour and condemned the council for “kicking people who have the least”.
Now Green councillors are lending their voice to growing calls for Labour to abandon the unpopular plans before the budget is approved.
The routes, which are run by Brighton and Hove Buses and known collectively as the Breeze up to the Downs services, are hugely popular with residents and tourists looking for an affordable and easy way to access the South Downs without having to rely on cars.
And Green councillors believe the local authority has a responsibility to ensure none of the city’s residents are blocked from accessing what is one of the jewels in the city’s crown and a vital local amenity.
Cllr Sue Shanks is among Green councillors who are backing BAT’s calls for Labour to reinstate the subsidies. She said: “We’re very aware that the lack of sufficient government funding has forced Labour into making some very difficult decisions, but it is absolutely wrong to cut the subsidies for these two much-loved bus routes.
“Any cuts to affordable and accessible transport must be avoided, but these cuts proposed by Labour are particularly unwelcome.
“Research tells us that people living in deprived communities – even those in close proximity to the countryside – and those getting by on low incomes are the least likely to access it. The council should not be placing further barriers in their way.
“These plans risk cutting the poorest in our communities off from the South Downs, denying people the chance to visit the fantastic green spaces everyone in this city is rightfully proud of – and robbing them of all the benefits we know spending time in the countryside can bring in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.
“We know Labour cannot reverse every planned cut. But my fellow Green councillors and I would strongly urge them to re-consider this clearly unpopular decision and commit to protecting our much-loved Breeze up to the Downs services.”