Threat to bus services in Wisbech area as Stagecoach announce possible closure of King’s Lynn depot

Stagecoach - considering major changes to their Norfolk operation that could affect parts of the Fen

Stagecoach - considering major changes to their Norfolk operation that could affect parts of the Fens - Credit: Archant

A Wisbech councillor warned today of the “quite severe” consequences of the decision by Stagecoach to possibly close its depot in King’s Lynn.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor said: “I was very shocked to learn of the proposed cancellation of the Stagecoach bus service in Kings Lynn.

“This will seriously affect many Wisbech residents - particularly those attending the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”

She believed there were over 700 people from Wisbech and the villages who travel weekly to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for oncology treatment, attend other clinics and visit family.

She said the connection to King’s Lynn was “an absolutely vital service”.

More than 100 jobs and bus services including the Coasthopper are in the balance after the company - which runs around 50 vehicles and employs 120 staff - said it was reviewing its operations in Norfolk in response to the challenging economic environment.

It blames a combination of rising operating costs and pressure on public sector budgets.

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The company said it has met with trade union representatives and launched a consultation with employees.

Paul Nelson, public transport manager for Cambridgeshire County Council, said that as some of the services affect Wisbech and the surrounding area he has asked Stagecoach to be kept informed.

“I have contacted them to ask what impact the closure might have on these routes,” he said in an email to councillors.

“Stagecoach has told me that at the present time they expect the routes to continue largely as now in Cambridgeshire, except for the 46 service between Wisbech and March via Wisbech St Mary, Guyhirn and Ring’s End, which is likely to be withdrawn.

“The section of this route to Kings Lynn would also be withdrawn and if the decision goes ahead then the service will cease operation from April 28.

“I have asked Stagecoach for any ridership information that they have for the service, which they have agreed to send to me, and based on this information we will consider what mitigating measures can be put in place.”

Cllr Bucknor said: “The impact for Wisbech residents could be quite severe.”

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, said: “We are a significant local employer and we understand the importance of bus services for the local community.

“We also know that any change can be unsettling for our people. That’s why we are working closely with both the trade union and local authority to protect as many jobs and as much of the local network as possible.

“We’re carrying out a consultation and will be working liaising closely with staff during that process.

“However, the reality is that we simply cannot sustain the current operation given the challenging economic climate that we’re faced