March 17 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 19, 2013
It is still unknown if a popular bus route will continue to run after the firm behind it has been sold.
It is hoped the Coasthopper service, which runs along the west and north Norfolk coast, will survive after Norfolk Green was bought by international company Stagecoach Bus Holdings.
In September, Norfolk County Council announced plans to cut its £225,000-a-year Coasthopper subsidy by £75,000 in each of the next two years which threatened the existence of the route.
Stagecoach has said it is too early to make any decisions on the current services.
Steve Stewart, Stagecoach’s director of communications, said: “We’ve met the Norfolk green staff and it is very much business as usual.
“If you look at Stagecoach’s track record we are one of the most successful companies at getting people on board.
“Community is very much the ethos at Stagecoach and we are part of local communities up and down the country.”
After nearly 18 years former Norfolk Green managing director Ben Colson felt it was the right time for the company to move into new pastures.
Mr Colson said: “Norfolk Green was founded on January 2 1996 so it is like it has kind of come of age and gone off to new things.
“In the early part it was a difficult decision, I don’t mind saying that. But once the decision was made it was a case of getting on with it because there was lots to do.
“I believe it is in better hands to steer it through immensely difficult times.
“The challenge in the longer term is dealing with funding cuts.
“It’s not that the company is failing, because it is not, or that we don’t have confidence in it, because we do.
“Stagecoach have an incredible record. They will have a much lower running cost because they are able to buy parts in bulk and so on.
“It will certainly be better for the staff I think.”
Stagecoach already runs services in parts of Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.
The news that Norfolk Green has been bought by an international company has been met with cautious optimism.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “Stagecoach are obviously buying a local success story and I do believe that they will use their strength and expertise to reinforce this success so that Norfolk Green carries on serving our community.
“Obviously I am very sad that Ben Colson has decided for perfectly understandable reasons that it is now time for him to move on. Having set the company up from scratch, he has turned it into an iconic local brand with an incredibly loyal workforce who have always put the customer first.
“Hopefully Norfolk Green will really benefit from having this new world class parent company, and I am going to be having early talks with them to discuss what I hope will be a firm ongoing commitment to key local services, including the Coasthopper.”