December 9 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Furious bosses at a Norfolk bus company, which stands to lose £150,000 in subsidy for a service which connects King’s Lynn with Cromer, have blasted the county council for not caring about the people of west and north Norfolk.
Under Norfolk County Council’s £140m savings proposals, the subsidy to Norfolk Green to run the Coasthopper service will be slashed by £75,000 in each of the next two years.
And bosses say taking that much away from the £225,000 a year subsidy could spell the end for the service, which first started in the 1990s.
Norfolk Green’s operations manager Richard Pengelly, said: “We do feel hard done by. The council’s simple answer is that we should reduce frequencies and that’s all they’ve said.
“Everyone knows that the majority of the population out here are elderly and the majority of them rely on public transport.
“What are we supposed to tell elderly people who want to get to the health centre at Wells or to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn?
“The county council is letting down the people of west and north Norfolk.”
Mr Pengelly said Norfolk Green’s managing director Ben Colson had run the Coasthopper at a loss each year, but believed it was important to provide a service.
He said: “Every year we try to keep it running. There will be no change in winter 2013 or in summer 2014, if the weather permits. But after September next year, I just don’t know. The temptation is just to not run it.”
Mr Pengelly said he hoped the service’s customers would let the council - and their councillors - know what the service means to them.
He said he suspected part of the reason the Coasthopper was the only service singled out to lose its subsidy was because a large number of its summer users were elderly tourists, who use concessionary bus passes and the bill for reimbursing the operator for them has to be picked up by the county council.
The council, in its justification for considering the proposal said the level of funding used to support the service was high when compared to the rest of the bus network the council supports.
They said they would work with the bus operator to keep the impact to the minimum and that it could mean in the summer there was one bus every 45 minutes, rather than every half an hour, with one bus every two hours instead of every hour in the winter.