Bus operator slams Spalding ‘old banger’ plan

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A BOSS at the bus firm running services between Spalding and King’s Lynn slammed traders’ plans to run “old banger” vintage buses in competition.

The Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce has discussed an idea of running old fashioned buses between the town centre and Springfields in a bid to encourage visitors to the outlet shopping centre to come into the town as well.

The chamber hopes to use “section 106” planning money held by South Holland District Council for the project - but says it wants to talk to Norfolk Green and has not set its plans in stone.

Norfolk Green upped its 505 buses from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes at the end of last year and said that if a rival bus, backed by council-held cash, came into operation it would have to review its level of service.

Richard Pengelly, operations manager at Norfolk Green, labelled the type of buses talked about by traders as “old bangers” and said: “To undermine that (the new service) by putting old wrecks in is a bit disappointing.

“Nobody in their wildest dreams would use heritage vehicles for front line service. You are just telling disabled people they are not welcome.”

He said his and other firms had had to invest heavily in new low floor buses.

However he added that if traders wanted Norfolk Green to run a totally separate shuttle bus then it would be interested in running it.

Chamber President Jason Rooke said members had met with council economic development manager Bruce Wakeling - who shares concerns about a rival bus.

Mr Rooke said businesses want to talk to Norfolk Green and are open to different suggestions that would help them boost town centre trade.

He said: “We are not going to get all emotional if we can’t do the vintage bus. At the end of the day we want to get footfall into the town centre.”

He welcomed the more regular Norfolk Green bus route and said he thought there were many ways in which it could be better signposted and marketed - and feels there are “masses of improvements” that could be made to help new visitors find their way around. Mr Wakeling said the 505 bus is a “real life saver” for people in the district and urged traders to think about the implications of a rival bus.