Vital’ bus service is saved after businesses agree a subsidy

The team from Corker Outdoor, Award sponsor Jason Varney (Thomson, Snell & Passmore) & Eamonn Holmes

As the Times reported last week, the 285 was in danger of cancellation after weekday operator Nu-Venture warned it was not attracting enough passengers to cover the cost of the route.

However, Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark has confirmed that the service, due for cancellation on April 1 ‘will now continue’.

The change followed meetings with the MP, Kent County Council (KCC), bus operators, AXA Health – whose main office is in Hawkenbury – local developer Berkeley Homes and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC).

Hams Travel, which used to only run the Saturday service, has now taken over the weekday route, and will run a six-day service thanks to financial subsidy from AXA Heath and Berkeley Homes.

Tracy Garrad, CEO of AXA Health, confirmed that the company was helping to finance the service.

She said: “We are delighted that through collaboration with local government we’ve been able to continue to provide the 285 bus service.

“Continuing to financially contribute to the service was a high priority for us to support local residents and ensure our employees can travel to our offices in line with our sustainability goals, and our long-term commitment to play a positive role in the local community.”

Thanking AXA Health, Greg Clark also confirmed contribution by housing developer Berkeley Homes, which created the Hollyfields development in Hawkenbury.

“I am very grateful to AXA and Berkeley Homes for agreeing to increase and bring forward subsidy for the service, and for the hard work of Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council officers as well as the support of local councillors and residents who contacted me,” he told the Times.

“The 285 service is a vital link for many people – young and old – and I was determined to do everything possible to save it.

“It was nearly lost because of declining passenger numbers so the clear message is if you value the 285, please use it!”

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