December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tourism bosses and business owners who rely on a well-used but under threat rural bus service are encouraging people to take part in meetings about its future.
Norfolk County Council will be holding public discussions about the Coasthopper, as part of a consultation process, at Wells, Sheringham and Hunstanton next month. The service runs between Cromer and King’s Lynn.
Under Norfolk County Council’s £140m savings proposals for 2014-17, revealed last month, the subsidy to Norfolk Green to run the Coasthopper service will be slashed by £75,000 in each of the next two years. It currently receives £225,000 a year in subsidies.
The council said it would work with the bus operator, Norfolk Green, to keep the impact to the minimum. That could mean that in the summer there was one bus every 45 minutes, rather than one every half an hour, with one bus every two hours instead of one every hour in the winter.
Jason Borthwick, diversification partner of Deepdale Farms and Dalegate Market, Burnham Deepdale, said a reduction in the Coasthopper would have a “significant and detrimental” impact on the environment, increase the amount of cars on the A149 and reduce visitors to villages, shops and attractions.
“The council will be driving a death knell into something that is cheap to run,” he added.
John Turner, assistant manager of the Jolly Sailors pub, Brancaster Staithe, uses the bus to get to work from his Thornham home.
He described it as a lifeline for north Norfolk and said many elderly people, who do not pay for the bus journeys, used the Coasthopper for hospital trips and shopping, as well as holidaymakers.
Mr Turner added a reduced service could have a knock-on effect for employment because a lot of pub, hotel and tourism attraction workers used the Coasthopper.
He said: “If you want the service you have to stand up for it.”
Norfolk Green’s operations manager, Richard Pengelly, said last month that the company’s managing director, Ben Colson, had run the Coasthopper at a loss each year, but believed it was important to provide a service.
The meetings will be held at Wells Maltings project office on November 6; Sheringham Community Centre on November 15; and Hunstanton Community Centre on November 27 – all between 4pm and 5.30pm.