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Wisbech Tesco bus funding approved to keep service 68 running



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An axe-threatened community bus has won a reprieve with news the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is to provide £15,000 of temporary funding.

News of the cash comes less than a week after Cambridgeshire Mayor Dr Nik Johnson was in Wisbech to attend a meeting aimed at convincing him to step in a help save the popular Bus 68 service, known locally as the Tesco Bus.

Dr Johnson was impressed by the turn out at a public meeting on Wednesday (23) organised by the Labour party and attended by users and supporters of the service which is operated by Fenland Association for Community Transport.

The service was threatened with having to cease running because of a lack of funding.

It had previously been funded by Section 106 money from Tesco but that has since run out and the Combined Authority stepped in to agree to temporarily keep it running until March 31 this year.

With that deadline looming a campaign to save the service was launched and pressure put on Mayor Dr Johnson to intervene and provide further temporary funding until a long-term solution could be found.

Having attended the meeting and then ridden the bus on Thursday (24) to see just how much the bus meant to users who rely on it to get to out of town shopping including Tesco and the Cromwell Retail Park, as well as the cinema, Mayor Dr Johnson has agreed to provide the £15,000 of Combined Authority money.

That will keep the bus running for the next six months, by which time it is hoped that a more sustainable solution can be found to ensure the service's future.

Mayor Dr Johnson, who attended the public meeting with the Combined Authority's head of transport, Rowland Potter, said he needed to ensure that the Combined Authority continues to provide public transport services which are good value for money and successfully meet the needs of those who use them.

The service runs on a circular route between Horsefair Bus Station and Tesco (Cromwell Road). There are also stops at Aces Eye Clinic, Wisbech Retail Park, College of West Anglia, Queen Mary Centre and Rosmini Centre.

Mayor Dr Johnson said: "It was good to meet the passengers and see the route and the community it serves for myself. It was clear there is a real community spirit in Wisbech, and they were passionate about saving the bus service.

"I am glad that the Combined Authority will continue to support the service until a more sustainable option can be put in place. Cooperation within the community is needed for long-term survival of this service, and this involves encouraging more people to use the bus."



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