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Users set to protest as Cambridgeshire mayor fails to stump up cash to save Wisbech Tesco bus



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Users and supporters of a popular Fenland bus service are preparing to protest against its loss at an upcoming meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board.

The move follows the news this week that operator Fenland Association for Community Transport has been forced to take the first legal step towards axing Route 68 in Wisbech - known as the Tesco Bus.

FACT has been forced to notify local authorities that it is planning to cease operating the bus which is described by users as a 'lifeline' providing them with access to retail parks and the eye clinic located on the outskirts of Wisbech.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson took a ride on Bus 68 to talk to passengers.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson took a ride on Bus 68 to talk to passengers.

Temporary funding to keep the bus running provided by Cambridgeshire Mayor Dr Nik Johnson in March after he took a trip to talk to passengers about the service is set to run out in September.

A call by local councillors including leader of Fenland District Council Chris Boden and Wisbech councillor Sam Hoy and others for the mayor to bring the call for funding to last week's (27) meeting of the Combined Authority fell on deaf ears.

Coun Hoy, who personally delivered timetables to every household in her ward which is served by the service, said: "We are totally gutted that despite doing everything the mayor asked us to do, which was to promote the Tesco bus and increase passengers, he has not stepped up to provide further funding.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Bus 68 back in March before stumping up temporary funding.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Bus 68 back in March before stumping up temporary funding.

"This service is a lifeline to the people who use it, many of who are elderly and don't have access to a car, and can't afford to use taxis to get about."

She said people are planning to stage a protest outside the Combine Authority's meeting on August 31 and Coun Boden added there was likely to a petition handed in at the same time.

Coun Boden, warning of the protest in an email to Mayor Dr Johnson, said: "There is bitter disappointment that staff, councillors and passengers have worked really hard to increase passenger numbers as you requested, that they've been successful in doing so with the prospect of yet better numbers still to come, but that no agreement has been reached by the CPCA in time to prevent the formal first notification having to be given by FACT to the CPCA and to FDC of the proposed cessation of this vital not-for-profit service."

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Bus 68 back in March before stumping up temporary funding.
Mayor Dr Nik Johnson attended an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Bus 68 back in March before stumping up temporary funding.

He said the mayor had promised and update and also that the service and its funding would be discussed at the Combine Authority meeting on August 31.

Gary Christy, chair of FACT, said he had submitted the first cessation notice to the Combined Authority and Fenland District Council.

This he said is ahead of the cessation notice FACT is required to send on September 1 to the Traffic Commission to de-register Route 68, with the service set to run for the last time on September 30.



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