The demonstration assembles outside Folkestone Central Photo: Ray Duff

By Ray Duff – A protest against the planned closure of rail ticket offices and the reduction of bus routes took place near Folkestone Central station on Wednesday evening.

The event was organised by the local Labour Party, but welcomed anyone who was concerned about the impact of these changes on the community.

Several speakers voiced their opposition to the cuts, which they said would affect people of all ages and backgrounds, not only in Folkestone, but also in other parts of the district. They handed out leaflets and flyers to commuters and pedestrians, and received honks of support from passing vehicles.

Protestors express their feelings about the cuts Photo: Ray Duff

Southeastern Trains and Stagecoach buses have justified the cuts by citing low usage, costs and other factors, but the protesters rejected these reasons as unsatisfactory and misleading.

Cllr Chrissie Cooper expresses her grave concerns. Photo: Ray Duff

Some of the speakers shared their personal stories of how the cuts would affect them and their neighbours. For example:

  • A resident from Hawkinge said that it would be harder for people to access Park Farm shopping estate and other amenities, as well as for children to get to school.
  • A resident from East Cliff recited a poem that expressed how people in her area would be isolated by having only one bus service on weekdays and none on Saturdays.
  • A resident from Hythe said that cutting off the 16’s bus from the town would make it more difficult and expensive for people to travel to Canterbury, especially for the elderly and disabled.
  • A councillor from Romney Marsh said that it was already challenging for young people to get to school or work, and for people to access health care services, especially at the William Harvey Hospital. She said that the cuts would make these problems worse.
  • A wheelchair user from the Marsh said that she was very worried about travelling to Folkestone for day care and shopping, as she would face longer waits and uncertainty about getting a space on the bus.

Many speakers also praised the benefits of having manned ticket offices, where they could get cheaper tickets and information about travelling. They said that closing most of them would discourage people from travelling, especially the elderly and disabled.

Further views on the cuts Photo: Ray Duff

Some speakers also criticised rail privatisation and bus deregulation, and called for public transport to be run for the public good. They vowed to continue their campaigns to restore decent public transport for all local people.

Another meeting about the cuts will be held at Sainsbury’s Park Farm café on Friday 1 September from 4 – 5.30pm by two local councillors.

By Ed

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