No doubt you are aware of new funding and duty arrangements for buses. The tourism industry in Norfolk needs to make loud noises about the situation, as we are very likely to lose services.
The Department for Transport have issued a new method of calculating how much operators across England should be paid for older people travelling free of charge, which will take effect next April. There is also a change to the way bus companies are rebated some of the fuel tax they pay, from the same date.
The effect is that for buses, and only for buses (not trains, taxis, ferries or cars), bus companies will face a 50% increase in the duty. From the same date they’ll receive even less for older people travelling free (it is, now about 16% below that of 2010).
In addition, Norfolk Councillors have decided that routes like the Coasthopper must stand on their own two feet financially and from next April they are cutting £100k from the Coasthopper funding.
This all adds up to a cocktail that could seriously reduce services and then seriously impact businesses along these routes. For me the main worry is the out of season market, which we’ve been building up over the last few years in conjunction with the bus services – walkers, bird watchers, etc. A significant proportion of the visitors out of season travel on free bus passes, meaning that the buses get less income and can’t afford to run as many services.
I feel it is vital that groups like Norfolk Tourism, BHA, Visit West Norfolk, North Norfolk Tourism & Brecks Partnership all send a common message to the councillors and MPs, to make clear that as a tourism industry we are very keen to create jobs and help with the growth of the UK economy, but the basic support currently in place must continue not be whipped out from under our feet.
Jason Borthwick
Diversification Partner
Deepdale Farms
Tel: 01485 210036
Mobile: 07776 254019

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