Consultation on funding cuts for three subsidised Stagecoach bus services in Thanet has been delayed until September.
Changes are proposed for the 39: Sherwood Gardens loop, Dumpton and Nixon Avenue; 42: Windermere Avenue/Rydal Avenue, Nethercourt and the 56: St Peter’s Road/Vicarage Street, St Peter’s and Stone Road/Lanthorne Road/Knights Avenue, Broadstairs.
The 56 was under threat of being axed in September. The three services are subsidised by Kent County Council.
KCC proposals were originally to cut £4 million funding for Socially Necessary Bus Services (SNBS). Some 78 SNBS contracts looked likely to be axed, including the 41-42a Monkton to Ramsgate service. But, as part of this financial year’s agreed budget KCC has reduced that cut to £0.45 million.
However, the 39, 42 and 56 are still under threat. Following discussions with Stagecoach the services were expected to move from public subsidy to commercially-operated routes.
Stagecoach said the areas already have similar existing commercial services and could be served by those with some slight network changes.
A public consultation was due to begin in April. This was then moved to May and has now been pushed back to September.
An email sent out today (June 5) to inform Thanet county councillors says: “The planned consultation on the withdrawal of support for the 39,42 and 56 in Thanet has been delayed until the start of September.”
The delay is to allow “further mitigation” from Stagecoach “to be fully developed and included in the consultation document.”
County Councillor Barry Lewis said: “I am delighted that the plans, which I opposed from the beginning, have now been delayed. I will continue to try to make KCC see sense.”
In April hundreds of people turned out to a meeting organised by Beacon ward councillor Jenny Matterface to air their concerns over the changes.
Residents said they were worried about losing more bus services and being housebound for those who cannot walk far enough to get other routes.
Cllr Matterface said: “The proposed changes for the 56 that residents were very concerned about would mean areas of Broadstairs and St. Peter’s would have no close route and some parts none at all.
“This would affect their access to the town shops, library, GPs surgeries, Westwood Cross, QEQM and Margate.”