WHAT DO YOU THINK? Proposal for Southwold shuttle bus as consultation on town “bus ban” gets set for launch

PEOPLE are to be given the chance to air their views on Southwold's controversial town centre 'bus ban', a year after the trial scheme was launched.

The announcement came this week as Southwold Town Council revealed a new shuttle bus service could be run to improve transport for elderly shoppers and visitors.

The future of the trial scheme, which bans buses from part of High Street, was discussed on Tuesday night at a town council meeting where members agreed to extend a public consultation until the end of August to consider its success.

But it was unclear whether people would be asked to fill in a survey form or write direct to the town council.

Meanwhile, a traffic working group revealed it had been in talks with Suffolk County Council over proposals for a new shuttle bus service. The 16-seater bus, which would operate on a non-profit basis, would cost �1,500 to run.

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The idea was mooted as a potential solution for some passengers who had to walk further up High Street with their shopping after a bus stop was moved from outside Chapman's News to the King's Head pub.

Speaking at the meeting, Simon Tobin said: 'The group has looked at the running of such a vehicle and it looks a tremendous opportunity.'

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The mayor of Southwold, Michael Ladd, said: 'A 16-seater minibus could sort some of the issues we have had with people carrying their shopping bags from the Market Place.

Ian Bradbury added: 'We have to look at this in great detail before we go forward. We have got to get a business plan that is entirely viable and does the job that we want it to do.'

The proposal comes after transport users' pressure group the East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA) called on the town council to scrap the bus ban in favour of re-routing buses or setting up park-and-ride schemes.

The experimental ban – paid for with �10,000 of the town council's money and match-funded by the county council – is designed to improve traffic flow by curbing the number of large vehicles travelling along High Street between Victoria Street and the Market Place.

?For information on taking part in the public consultation, contact Southwold Town Council on 01502 722576 (between 10am and 12noon, Monday to Friday) or write to the Town Hall, Market Place, Southwold, IP18 6EF.

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