Bus routes are saved

The county council has come to the rescue of two popular rural bus routes after the existing operator pulled out.

The number 36 route which runs from Sleaford to Boston via Heckington on Wednesdays and the number 32 from Sleaford to Bourne via Billingborough on Thursdays, were both due to cease this week after Kimes Coaches of Folkingham, now owned by Centrebus, announced it would no longer be running them.

Dave Shelley, commercial director of Centrebus said both services had been run without any local authority funding as commercial routes. “Unfortunately, a number of costs outside our control have risen significantly in the past year or so; fuel costs, the tax rebate on fuel has been reduced by government, insurance costs, statutory employment costs and statutory training costs within the industry, to name but a few.”

He said this had made the route unprofitable and they had given the county council eight weeks notice of quitting, although they would consider carrying on if the service was subsidised enough.

This news angered Heckington residents and parish council chairman Richard Higgs said it was a well used service, with on average at least 15-16 passengers getting on at Heckington alone, plus others from other stops, to do their shopping in Boston each Wednesday.

A county council spokesman said the authority has found £5,616 extra funding to keep both services running. The number 36 service will now be under Sleafordian, with no disruption in service.

An existing service, the Delaines 301, has been extended to incorporate Billingborough, Pointon and Dowsby to replace the number 32. Any villages not served by this route can use the CallConnect service – call 0845 2343344.