Withdrawal of bus services to be raised in Parliament
THE withdrawal of bus services in Henbury due to antisocial behaviour will be raised in Parliament.
Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie believes the reaction of First Bus is over the top and has promised to address the issue in the House of Commons.
Ms Leslie has also written to Avon and Somerset police and First Bus to express her concerns.
The bus services in her constituency have been temporarily withdrawn due to robberies and antisocial behaviour.
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She said: "This is a very serious issue and I think that the response by the bus company and the police is over the top.
"It totally sends out the wrong message to the yobs in our society, that they have the power to disrupt.
"And it sends out the wrong message to those in need of the bus services that they don't matter.
"What we need from the police are plans to combat antisocial behaviour and provide safety on our buses, not a cancellation of a much-needed service.
"And what we need from First Bus is a determination to ensure that the services they undertook to provide will continue to be provided whatever the additional safety measures required."
In the last year, three robberies have been committed against bus drivers in the Henbury and Crow Lane areas. As a direct result, some buses are not running in the area after 6.30pm.
Services affected are 1, 40/40A and 76.
After 6.30pm, No 1 buses no longer serve Station Road in either direction, 40/40A buses do not stop on Hallen Road or Station Road and 76 buses do not serve Henbury, Tomarton Crescent or operate along Station Road.
Bus passengers and Henbury residents believe First has given in to yobs and cut the area adrift in the evenings.
Barbara Smith, 62, of Standfast Road, said: "I do think First Bus have given in to the yobs, but there again you do have to think about the safety of the bus drivers because they are the ones taking the risk.
"I think a security guard on the bus would be a good idea because it would put people off without a doubt."
Nikki Carver, 18, lives in Portishead but uses the buses regularly to visit her friend.
She said: "If we go out now we have to walk home after dark and unfortunately that means dark alleys or over the fields – neither of which is very safe.
"They used to have security on the night buses to make sure everyone was safe but that has gone now. I understand that they want drivers to be safe, but cancelling the services because of yobs is definitely bowing to pressure."
Brian O'Neil, 65, of Standfast Road, added: "It's a bit bleak because people who rely on the buses are stuck.
"They should not have given into the yobs but taken precautions so their drivers are safe, perhaps installing an alarm system."
Tony McNiff, managing director of First in Bristol, Somerset and Avon said: "We would like to apologise to any customers in Henbury who have been affected by our decision to temporarily withdraw bus services from Station Road and Crow Lane in Henbury.
"The decision to do this was not taken lightly but instead was taken in light of the very serious nature of the crimes committed against our drivers.
"Clearly as a responsible employer and bus operator we cannot and will not put our staff or customers at risk, but we do remain committed to providing bus services in the area though, and with this in mind we are working on a plan to reintroduce services."