Sidmouth Hopper community plea

SIDMOUTH’S Hopper bus enjoyed its ‘best-ever’ year with record numbers of passengers, but, faces losing a third of its funding in 2011- driving forces have warned.

SIDMOUTH’S Hopper bus enjoyed its ‘best-ever’ year with record numbers of passengers but faces losing a third of its funding in 2011 – driving forces have warned.

Civic leaders have called on the community to come forward with a view to taking over the running of the valued service.

The Hopper’s co-ordinator and working party chairman, town councillor John Dyson, said this week: “It’s past the baby stage now,” and appealed to the public for help.

He added: “I see no reason why someone interested in doing this can’t take over. I’m happy to help anyone who might want to come forward. It’s right it should be passed on. I’m not saying I’ll give it up.

“It was a good year. I don’t think we’ll have another like it unless the weather is equally as good.

“In each of the four months more passengers were carried by the single bus than ever before.”

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The Hopper carried 10,869 passengers: a 16 per cent rise on last year.

Mr Dyson added: “For the next few years we do not expect to receive much support from the public purse.”

The �5,000 from East Devon District Council – a third of the �20,000 running costs this year – won’t be provided in 2011 when the administration of concessionary fares is transferred to the county council.

New business contributors have helped the service bag an intentional surplus of nearly �3,000 for next year.

Town council chairman, Cllr Peter Sullivan, added to calls for public involvement, saying they didn’t want it to become the town council’s service.

“We’re looking for somebody in the community to take up the reins of this project and go forward with it.

“John Dyson, over the last four years, has literally done everything.”

Mr Dyson added new operator Hatch Green Coaches, aided by principle driver Jim Tucker, provided an “excellent” service.