Sixth year for Sidmouth's free Hopper service

RAPIDLY becoming the 21st century toast rack , Sidmouth s free Hopper Bus service will soon return to town.

RAPIDLY becoming the 21st century 'toast rack', Sidmouth's free Hopper Bus service will soon return to town.

Now in its sixth year of operation, the Hopper, brainchild of town councillor Tom Cox, will operate from Monday, June 1, finishing on Sunday, September 27.

Core funding is again being provided by Sidmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council through the World Heritage Site Fund.

"Whether you are a resident who wants to make the most of the healthy walking and wonderful wildlife, or a business wanting to offer more to your guests, the Sidmouth Hopper offers something for everyone," said its co-ordinator Town Councillor John Dyson.

"As a regular walker and orienteer the Hopper is a great way to stay fit."

The service will follow last year's route, connecting all main car parks; including the free Knowle weekend car park, with Sidmouth's shops, beaches, Connaught Gardens, the museum, Norman Lockyer Observatory and Peak Hill and Salcombe Hill.

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It will operate on an hourly cycle, but not during Folk Week; July 31 to August 7.

Leaflets with more details and timetables will soon be distributed to Sidmouth Information Centre, library, accommodation providers and participating businesses.

It contains a range of discount vouchers encouraging people to make the most of the outstanding shopping and refreshments available in Sidmouth.

Sid Vale Association and the Keith Owen Fund have given substantial grants, recognising the Hopper's important service to visitors and residents, not just for the town but also improving access to countryside and viewpoints at Salcombe Hill and Peak Hill.

"We are delighted to receive this from our local civic society. It confirms again how support for this project is broadening every year," said Mr Dyson.

The working party includes Michael Horsnell, representing Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, Mark Seward, chairman of the Sidmouth Hospitality Association and Kimmo Evans, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

All are looking for further support to match, or hopefully exceed, last year's record donations from the town's business community and other sources.