KM Column - 'Big Conversation' Consultation - 28 June 2018
Last year, Kent County Council (KCC) launched a consultation which put 78 bus services in Kent at risk of being cut, including many in our local area. Understandably, many of us were worried what this would mean for services, but the Council ended the consultation before it had even really begun.
Six months later, and KCC have launched the ‘Big Conversation’ on the future of rural bus services. They say that this programme aims to find potential new opportunities in providing rural transport services, help tackle social isolation and make better use of technology. Unlike the previous consultation, there haven't been any buses earmarked for cancellation, and instead three ideas have been put forward by the Council to keep local connections. It all sounds positive, and I hope that they are able to find solutions, but I am concerned that it could be another attempt to cut many of our much-needed services in villages. We cannot let that happen.
KCC will be holding a number of public meetings throughout Kent, with one at Borough Green Village Hall on 5 July, and another at Sessions House in Maidstone on 19 July, both between 7pm and 9pm, and I hope you can go. There is also an online questionnaire and more information which can be found here – www.kent.gov.uk/bigconversation. I would also encourage you to contact your local County Councillors, they represent you in County Hall where the debate on buses happens, and let them know any thoughts you have.
Rural buses are incredibly important to all many of us, they free us from stuck at home or school and help many who would otherwise find difficult to travel to get out, see friends and keep working. I hope this will be a chance for some innovative thinking, and a good chance to improve our rural bus links.