A government minister will be invited to take a trip on a coastal bus service as campaigners try to save it from looming cuts.

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Transport minister Norman Baker will be asked to visit north Norfolk and board the Coasthopper, a popular hop-on, hop-off service that is on the brink of cutting its timetable.

The service, run by Norfolk Green and operating along the coast from King’s Lynn to Cromer, is under pressure from funding cuts and a drop in government fuel tax subsidies.

It is also being hit hard by the concessionary bus scheme, with 70pc of its peak-season passengers getting free travel - a loss that cannot be recouped in full.

The problems are exacerbated by a £4.5m shortfall in government funding to Norfolk County Council, since administration of the concessionary fares moved to County Hall from district councils.

On Tuesday, Oddfellows Hall in Sheringham hosted a meeting, chaired by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and attended by representatives from Norfolk Green, Norfolk County Council, plus councillors from wards along the route.

After an hour-long discussion, it was agreed that a delegation would travel to London to meet Mr Baker and invite him to use the Coasthopper service to understand its importance.

And, after a straw poll, a majority of attendees said they wanted a change to the concessionary travel scheme to make people from outside Norfolk pay half fare, rather than nothing, when using bus services in the county.

After the meeting, Mr Lamb said: “It’s about fairness to Norfolk. Does it make sense that quite well off people are coming to Norfolk and getting transport for free?

He added: “People love the Coasthopper, and it must be possible for a service that is so popular to also be sustainable.”

Ben Colson, managing director of Norfolk Green, said: “There are a number of issues which all come into sharp focus next year.

“A lot of the issues are national, not local. It’s a question of trying to find a way of unlocking things.”

He added: “The more the funding shortfall grows, the more difficult it will be to run the current level of service.

“If you run fewer buses, more people get left behind. And if more people get left behind, with the buses largely full, it has a knock-on effect. Then it destroys the value of the service for everybody.

“From next year, we will be struggling to keep it as a half-hourly service.”

Tracey Jessop, assistant director of travel and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: “It’s been really helpful to raise awareness of how things are run.

“It’s a highly popular service, of great value to community and a great tourist attraction that still takes a significant amount of council funding to run.

“That’s unlikely to change because of the complications of the government’s transport policies.”

She added that the council was under “great pressure” over concessionary fares, which was a compulsory service.

14 comments

  • why is norman lamb only campaigning for a bus used by tourists ? why pick one route over all of the others cut and axed that residents actually use ?

    Report this comment

    Double Bill

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • It really angers me when you see young families struggling to make ends meet paying full price for bus travel, and having to pay for young children. Students who have had their EMA taken away (ironically because it was not means tested enough) having to pay to get to college (in an area where young people achieving is amongst the lowest nationally) - yet you can see some wealthy retiree able to leave the Bentley parked on the drive and get a free bus. This is an issue that stretches far further than the coasthopper. Not a particularly inclusive meeting anyway, councillors for all parishes served by the coasthopper were invited to attend the meeting, with the exception of Bodham (which is served by the bus that also goes to Kelling Heath Holiday park) - When I bought this to the attention of Norman Lambs office I was fobbed off with some answer about preventing the meeting from being over run - like 1 member of Bodham parish council is going to over run a meeting . . .

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • Does Norm think about how he votes? It seems he walks through the chambers and then complains about the consequences afterwards. He supported the cuts to the councils which has slashed bus subsidies.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • routes cut---Oaps abuse the bus travelling free.when will they pay up like everyone else?hundreds go to Wroxham and Yarmouth and save hundreds of pounds on fares.in recession its madness.

    Report this comment

    bookworm

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

  • Norfolk Green gets it. This isn't a local issue that Norman Lamb is talking about, it's something the government are inflicting on transport companies everywhere. If Norman doesn't like it he could stand up in House of Commons and say so.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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