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More than a quarter of a million pounds more has been earmarked to improve rural access in Suffolk over the coming ...
More than a quarter of a million pounds more has been earmarked to improve rural access in Suffolk over the coming year.

When they were asked*, Suffolk people said they wanted better access to and from rural areas and this has been given a top priority in this year's transport budget.

Suffolk CC is ploughing£255,000 extra into the 2000/01 public transport budget bringing the total spend to£1,154,000. In addition£1,202,000 will be spent on supporting rural bus routes from a separate government grant.

The increase in spending will allow new ventures to be developed so that services are more effectively targeted.

One aim is to improve public transport information so people can better plan their journeys to suit their needs.

Joan Girling, executive committee member, said: 'In a county like Suffolk it is essential to keep rural communities alive and thriving. In order to make countryside living a real option for everyone there has to be good access to affordable, regular public transport.

'But just adding to the number of bus services isn't the answer. We need to make sure the routes are planned for optimum access and that the timetables make sure people get to work on time.

'Bus stops should provide shelter as well as good, up-to-date information. By improving the quality of the service we can prevent rural communities from becoming isolated and accessible only to those with their own transport.'

But while the council is anxious to make public transport more accessible it is equally concerned to reduce the amount of waste the county produces.

Although the rate of increase has slowed since a peak of 6.8% in 1997/98 it is still far too high at just below 5%.

This increase alone is costing Suffolk another£1m this year. But, on top of that increase, the government is increasing landfill tax by£1 per tonne, which will cost an extra£400,000.

Executive committee member Ros Scott explained: 'The government is increasing landfill tax every year so unless we can cut the amount of waste we will have to keep on paying more.

'The best way is to reduce the amount of waste that has to be dealt with. This is something we can start doing today that will save money.'

For every one per cent reduction in the quantity of waste for either disposal or recycling this would save the county council£100,000.

- Around 3,000 Suffolk residents took part in a survey, conducted by research company MORI, called Suffolk Speaks. They were asked their views about Suffolk. The results reveal that one of people's main concerns was public transport.

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