July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Campaigners who have fought to stop cuts to a north Norfolk coast bus route have welcomed a deal which will secure the immediate future of the service.
The popular Coasthopper service, which carries 500,000 people annually between King’s Lynn and Cromer, has been running since 1996 and receives an annual subsidy from Norfolk County Council.
The county council had, through its Putting People First consultation, agreed to slash £75,000 from the route’s £225,000 subsidy in each of the next two years, in a bid to help plug the council’s £189m funding gap.
But, the county council has now reached an agreement with Norfolk Green, the operator of the bus, which means the future is safe at least until autumn next year.
While Norfolk Green will operate the bus in the summer, without any subsidy from the county council, transport bosses at County Hall have agreed to still invest in the winter service, so that can continue.
Toby Coke, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport committee, said: “The Coasthopper represents a vital means of transport for many residents in West Norfolk and across the North Norfolk coast, so I’m very pleased that between us and Norfolk Green, we’ve been able to secure its future for the medium term.
“The fact that the county council has managed to make savings in its contribution to the service while allowing the route and frequency of the Coasthopper to remain unaffected for at least another year means this is not just good news for passengers but the Norfolk taxpayer as well.
“Our next step is to investigate viable options to allow the Coasthopper to continue to run beyond autumn 2015 and we are hoping to secure further private investment.”
Andrew Dyer, MD of Norfolk Green, said “Coasthopper is a superb example of partnership working between public and private sectors. The effort and investment put in by both parties since the service started in 1996 has produced the success story that we see today.
“I am delighted that we have been able to secure the future of the service with the current summer and winter timetables until late next year and I am confident that the route will have a bright future beyond that.”
Marie Strong, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council and councillor for Wells, said: “This is great news. I would like to thank all those many people who provided me with evidence as to the importance of the Coasthopper in providing transport for work, study, leisure – and even to reach and care for relatives.”
• Are you a fan of the Coasthopper service? Tell us why it is important to you by writing, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.