Support mounts for Market Rasen bus service

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HUNDREDS of people have thrown their support behind a campaign demanding a bus company saves a vital service threatened with severe cuts.

The number 3 bus between Grimsby and Lincoln could be drastically reduced – from one bus an hour to just two a day - because operator Stagecoach is facing a 20 per cent cut in its Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) for tax relief on fuel.

In just over 24 hours an incredible 325 people signed a petition at Caistor Post Office, with many others signing a petition at Nettleton’s Salutation Inn. Campaigner Tara Conway has even taken to the streets to collect signatures.

She said: “I got a lot of support from people in Market Rasen – some people could lose their jobs and it’s going to have a terrible impact on students.”

Caistor Post Office’s postmaster Martin Sizer said: “A resident asked us to put the petition in the shop and it’s going extremely well already. A lot of people are signing it.

“People in Caistor rely on the bus - there could be lots of repercussions from this.”

The popular bus serves places like Market Rasen, Caistor, Nettleton, Holton le Moor, Middle Rasen, Linwood and Faldingworth – but Stagecoach says it is just not profitable enough.

The bus operator’s commercial manager Jon Donnelly said: “At the end of the day the decision is based on the service’s financial performance and unless something changes the service is still under threat. Signatures on a petition are not going to change anything.”

Lincolnshire County Council’s head of transportation Chris Briggs said he had liaised with Stagecoach but could not afford to help subsidise the service based on the figures they quoted. The county council has just cut this budget from £5m to £4m.

Coun Burt Keimach said it costs £333 a day to run the number 3 bus at its present level. He said: “That comes to £2,000 a week. I do not want to say there is no hope whatsoever, but hope is slim to save the service in its current state.”

Market Rasen resident Anthony Shambrook and his partner Dawn Lancaster moved to the town from Grimsby four years ago.

Anthony said: “We moved here for a better quality of life not to be cut off from the rest of the world.

“This could take the town off the map – people won’t want to move here and a lot of businesses are going to suffer.”

Dawn works at a shop in Grimsby and will have to give up her job if the cuts go ahead. She said: “It would be awful. I’ve worked there for a long time and really enjoy it. And I doubt very much that I’d be able to find work in Market Rasen.”

Lincolnshire County Council councillor for Caistor Tony Turner said: “If the changes go ahead it would be a disaster. A lot of people rely on the number 3 service, especially in the villages.”

WLDC councillor for Caistor Alan Caine said: “An awful lot of people have contacted me about this. There’s a great deal of fear about losing the service.

“The bus stop is always full. This affects people of all ages.”

But Indulgence gift shop owner Steve Hind said: “This could have a positive impact on the business because it’ll keep people in the town.

“Most people who come into town travel by car. I know a lot of my customers don’t uses the bus.”

It is thought thousands of people living our rural towns and villages will back to the campaign before organisers take the petition to Stagecoach ahead of a decision on April 1.

Tara Conway will be taking her petition to the following places: Caistor Market Place on Thursday, March 1 from 10.30am to 2.30pm, Nettleton, next to The Salutation Inn, on Friday, March 2 from 11am to 3pm and Middle Rasen, near Crossroads Stores, on Saturday, March 3 from 10.30am to 1.30pm.