Health and safety Newport bus cut slammed

THE axing of a bus route to a Newport tourist hub because of health and safety concerns has sparked widespread anger and fears it is yet “another nail in the coffin” for the holiday industry.

First Bus has stopped its long-running daily number 3 service along Newport Road because it says reversing at the end of the road to make a turn could pose a danger to passers-by.

However, the move prompted an outcry from many who live, work and holiday down the road.

They say that tourists who now have to haul luggage by foot to the end of the largely unlit road – where the bus now stops at the junction with Kings Way –will be put off returning, while the large number of elderly people at the camps will also struggle.

Terry De’Ath has run Crystal Palace Amusements, an amusement arcade, for 20 years and said the bus has travelled the route for as long as he could remember.

“I’ve never known anything so stupid in all my life,” he said. “That you can’t turn a bus around because of health and safety – well, it’s ridiculous.

“In peak weeks in the past we’ve had 20 or 30 people waiting for the bus who now have to walk, and the complaints we’ve had – well, when you tell them they look at you like you’re an idiot, they can’t believe it. “Once someone comes up here and finds they have to walk half-a-mile, they’re not going to want to come back. They will just choose somewhere like Hemsby instead.”

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A summertime service, number 3 provided a doorstep drop-off point for the two chalet parks and four caravan parks – a total of more than 1,500 plots, including 150 residential sites.

Running from Hemsby beach to Market Gates in Great Yarmouth each half-hour, it was the only weekend service down the road. It is also the same service which the Mercury revealed earlier this month had been cut from running along the seafront, causing concerns about access.

The change of route came about late last month following a route risk assessment and what a spokesman for First Bus described as “major concern” from their trade union over the issue.

She added this was followed by meetings with their commercial and operations teams and then registered with the traffic commissioner.

However, Brian Robinson, who has a caravan at Newport Caravan Park, pointed to the number of older people using bus passes from the road and said: “They talk about health and safety, but what about the elderly people having to walk up and down that road?

“I’ve just bought a caravan thinking I could get to Yarmouth easily and we’ve been thrown on the scrap heap.”

Others have pointed out that among other vehicles to perform the manoeuvre are Reynolds Coaches, the four-times-a-day Anglian Bus weekday service, and a bus to Martham High School.

Owner of Newport Caravan Park Ian Pratt said the move was “another nail in the holiday coffin” for the area, while Paula Banham, who runs Seafields and Seabreeze caravan parks said:

“Just last week I saw one family having to drag their cases up the road. It will have a negative impact on things here – why can one bus company turn around and the other can’t?”

The First Bus Spokesman added that the decision was “to ensure everyone’s safety”, and added: “We appreciate the stop at the junction of Newport Road and Kings Way is a reasonable distance, however health and safety must be our main priority.”

Follow John Owens on Twitter @JOwensMercury