Victory for Otterton bus users

Otterton residents are celebrating a victory after a U-turn decision over plans cut their bus service Stagecoach and the county council are working together to retain the service.

Otterton campaigners fighting in a battle of the buses against proposed service cuts are celebrating victory after the Journal stepped in and helped save the day.

A group of regulars from The Kings Arms, Otterton, calling themselves The Kings’ Men, have been battling against Stagecoach’s proposal to cut its regular bus service to and from the village.

Campaigners thanked the Journal after Stagecoach announced it had teamed up with Devon County Council to retain the village bus service.

A Stagecoach spokeswoman said: “Following the withdrawal of the successful tenderer for the 56 service, we can confirm that we are now working with Devon County Council on developing a combined commercial and supported service for the 56 and 157.

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“Subject to a finalised timetable, we are confident that this will leave the current service levels for both buses largely unchanged.”

The county council said: ““Devon County Council is helping to maintain a bus service to Otterton and has agreed to financially support bus journeys serving the village that would otherwise be cut by Stagecoach. The council is continuing discussions with the bus operator to minimise the impact of their decision.”

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The battle of the buses began when Stagecoach revealed it was to cancel all bus services to and from Otterton from May 23.

Devon County Council told Otterton Parish Council it could fund a limited service, maintained by special vehicles.

Councillor Christine Channon championed the cause and East Devon MP Hugo Swire liaised with the parish council over the village’s fears it could become cut off through lack of public transport.

Fearing community pleas were being ignored, Otterton resident and Kings’ Men member Bruce Kennard-Simpson, 82, of Dukes Close, contacted the Journal to highlight the community campaign.

He said: “It really shows, in a democracy, you can still fight your corner and win. Lots of people think it won’t do any good and they won’t take any notice - but they do. You can win.

“The Journal helped quite a bit. With the help of the local press, large companies get frightened about this sort of thing.”

Otterton Parish Council chairman, John Edmonds, said there had been an ‘upsurge in anger’ over the proposed bus cuts.

He said the plan totally opposed the government’s green policy of promoting public transport.

Mr Edmonds said: “Otterton forcibly lost the shop and Post Office a few years ago and, therefore, everyone has to rely on shops in other areas.

“Otterton Mill heavily relies on bus services for staff use and a considerable number of visitors. Other businesses, such as Ladram Bay and The Old Vicarage, also rely on the buses.

“There are also a number of Otterton residents who rely on the bus service, as they do not have a car of their own.”

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