The 261 bus which is to be replaced by a minibus service.

Uckfield and Maresfield councils help keep bus service running

Efforts are being made to keep a bus service running between Uckfield and East Grinstead via Maresfield, Nutley and the Ashdown Forest.

The 261 service was previously run by Seaford and District Bus Company but they were due to cease operating it on May 21.

The North Wealden Community Transport Partnership is now stepping in to run a minibus service in its place.

Contributions

Contributions towards the annual £9,000 cost of running and promoting the minibus service – the equivalent of £173 per week –  have been promised by Uckfield Town Council (£2,000) Maresfield Parish Council (£2,000), Wealden Bus Alliance (£1,000).

This total will enable the service to run until March 2017.

Fares taken will be shared back to contributing councils.

Members of Uckfield Town Council’s environment and leisure committee were told at a meeting last week that Seaford District Buses estimated they were taking £60 a week against their costs of £220 per Saturday.

County council

East Sussex County Council returns however, showed a higher figure of £96 per Saturday. The real figure would not be known until the service was operational.

The county council has said it can no longer fund the deficit between the full operating costs and fares taken but has said it will support the replacement service by providing and enhancing bus stops along the way and providing any necessary advice and equipment.

The plan is to run the service from 9.20am to 5.03pm, making four circuits over eight hours, each Saturday. The replacement service would follow a slightly different route to that previously followed but will still start in Uckfield.

Attractions

It will stop near a greater number of attractions within Ashdown Forest, enabling people to visit the forest, take in the scenery of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also enable visitors and tourists to reach the forest on public transport.

There would also be two stops where service users could change buses to reach other locations such as Forest Row and East Grinstead on the 270 bus.

The community transport partnership is one of ten community transport operators in East Sussex who operate minibuses where a service is deemed to be essential but not profitable enough to interest a commercial operator.

It was formed by a group of parish councils and is both a not-for-profit company and registered charity. It successfully operates three other routes in East Sussex, each of which receives financial contribution from the relevant town and parish councils.

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