March 14 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
A bus driver on the popular Coasthopper service has used the rural route and his life as inspiration for his first book aimed at getting young people into reading.
The new boss of Norfolk Green has said he is “confident” about the future of the Coasthopper service.
Andrew Dyer took over as managing director from Ben Colson, who retired, after the King’s Lynn based firm was bought by Stagecoach Bus Holdings last month.
The bus route has been running since 1999 and receives an annual subsidy from Norfolk County Council.
But the authority is now proposing to slash £75,000 from its £225,000 subsidy in each of the next two years, in a bid to help plug the council’s £189m funding gap.
Mr Dyer said: “I’m very confident the summer timetable will run as it has done in previous years. The position isn’t definite for the winter season.”
The summer season runs from the beginning of May to the beginning of October and buses run every 30 minutes. The winter season starts in October and buses currently run every hour.
Tracy Jessop, from the council, said: “The summer service has been very publically “guaranteed” by Norfolk Green (and subsequently Stagecoach) as a commercial venture. I am in discussions to help identify what gaps might need to be filled for the winter service. This proves that there is sufficient profit to run the summer service and that any public money only needs be targeted at a proportionate winter service for the local needs.”
Ena’s New Home was written by Paul Smart who based the story on experiences and “characters” from the Norfolk Green route which runs from King’s Lynn to Cromer.
Mr Smart, 46, from Oaklands Lane, Runcton Holme, hopes to create nine more stories in the Ena’s World series and described the under threat Coasthopper as a “integral” to Norfolk tourism.
He said: “It is about how a little bus called Ena leaves the big city and moves to somewhere small close to the coast.
“My idea with the book was to get kids interested in books.
“Kids have a fondness for anything that moves, especially buses, and I’m trying to capture that.”
Mr Smart, a former fruit seller in Coventry, became a bus driver after being made redundant in 2000.
He started his career working in the West Midlands, but moved to Tydd St Giles, near Wisbech, about 11 years ago after he fell in love with the Fens.
Since then he has completed a three-year degree in English literature and sociology at the College of West Anglia in 2012.
The bus driver, who wants to mentor young people and write more books, hopes Ena’s New Home will inspire creativity with its artwork.
He said: “I didn’t want it to be too perfect because in a child’s world nothing is in proportion. I wanted it to be quirky.”
He described Ena as his alter ego and named the main character after the registration ENA on an old Norfolk Green Mercedes bus.
Mr Smart said the Coasthopper was important to the county and added: “North Norfolk is heavily reliant on tourism and the tourist information centres, cafes and the Coasthopper is an integral part of that.”
The book costs £5.99 and can be bought from Sainsbury’s in Hunstanton, the tourist information centres in Wells, Cromer and Hunstanton or by visiting http://enasworld.co.uk.