Fowey residents fight to save "essential" town bus
FOWEY residents and businesses have rallied together in a bid to save the town bus amid fears Cornwall Council will stop subsidising the service.
Locals have launched a campaign urging the council not to classify the service as a tourist bus – meaning pensioners and people with disabilities will no longer be entitled to subsidised bus fares.
Last week Sinead Hanks, from town support group Love Fowey, set up the 'Save Fowey Bus' page on social networking website Facebook, which has already clocked up more than 300 supporters.
"It's so clearly not just a tourist bus," she said. "It seems it should be a really easy case to prove. Last year 20,000 journeys were made on it during the winter which, broadly speaking, were made by local people."
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Julie Yeo, who set up the Town Bus service eight years ago, said if the council cut subsidies, fewer people would use the service and she would have to revise the timetable.
"When I first started the bus pensioners could only use the bus pass in their own counties. Then the Government changed it so you could use them anywhere," she said.
"The answer would be to only let people use their bus pass in their own county."
Mrs Yeo said the bus is a lifeline for many locals and she is urging people to support the campaign.
"I just feel that the people of Fowey really do need this bus.
"If the hours were greatly reduced during the winter months it would affect a lot of people," she said.
Businesses in the town say their trade would be greatly affected if the bus service was reduced. "Even in the winter when there aren't very many cafés open you see groups of people heading into town for a coffee or going to the butchers or fishmongers," Mrs Hanks said. "If they had to pay they would not do that. It contributes to the economy and to the wellbeing and social needs of people in Fowey, which the council is responsible for to some extent."
The campaigners argue the demand for the service will inevitably increase after Wainhomes was granted planning permission to build 82 homes in Hill Hay.
"Wainhomes have got permission to build all those homes at the top of the town," Mrs Hanks said. "They were talking about a park and ride scheme. When all those houses go up it is going to be essential to have a bus go to the top of the town."
Cornwall Council said the proposals are part of an annual review of the concessionary travel scheme.
In a statement it said: "This year the council is reviewing the eligibility of the Fowey Town Bus, which is advertised as a link to and from the main car park, alongside similar routes in other towns which are categorised as 'routes primarily for tourism'.
"Under the national legislation these types of service are ineligible for the Concessionary Travel Scheme and the council has previously removed services which are categorised in this way in other towns in Cornwall."
Anyone wishing to write to the council regarding the reclassification of the Fowey Town Bus service is asked to write to Cornwall councillor Bert Bisoce at Cornwall Council, County Hall, Truro, TR1 3AY.