Bus service pulled after alleged hostility in Seaton and Colyton

The Jurassic Mule traveling through Lyme Regis

SEATON mayor Councillor Jack Rowland has offered to broker a meeting after a bus company closed down a seasonal service early following claims of hostility towards staff in Seaton and Colyton.

Mendip Mule Motorbus co-owner Derek Gawn said last Friday: “The open top bus tour service operating between Beer, Colyton, Seaton, Lyme Regis and Charmouth is to be withdrawn from Septe- mber 10th due to hostility from a small minority of local reside- nts towards their sta- ff.”

The company issued a press release, which was also posted on its website, saying: “The service has carried in excess of 20,000 passengers this year, bringing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“Owner Derek Gawn has taken the decision after he and his staff have been subject to tirades from a few local residents in the Seaton and Col- yton area.

“All of the company’s part time workforce of 25 will be laid off.

“Sadly a couple of residents of the flats overlooking The Underfleet bus and coach park in Seaton have taken to shouting at the drivers for parking our buses in the bus park, as they don’t want them outside their flat.

“All engines are shut down once parked. The bus park is provided by East Devon District Council for buses and coaches to use on a pay and display based ticketing arrangement.

“It isn’t for the bus drivers to be shouted at by residents who don’t welcome the facility.

“Not a particularly good welcome for the much-needed tourists bringing their spending to the town.

“We no longer wish to subject our staff to such behavior from a small minority of locals.”

Seaton mayor Jack Rowland said last Sunday: “I wasn’t personally aware of any hostility shown towards the Mendip Mule staff, but was aware of the concerns expressed regarding the buses stopping at the bus stop in the Underfleet when the driver has to take a mandatory break.

“I know that a solution was being sought concerning this with discussions with East Devon District Council concerning the use of the coach car park.

“The siting of the bus stops in the Underfleet is causing problems whenever any bus stops due to traffic attempting to overtake a parked bus close to roundabouts in both directions, and Seaton Town Council has taken this up with Devon County Council.

“I would be happy to arrange a meeting with Derek Gawn and the people who have expressed their views directly to the staff in an effort to find a way forward if it is not too late in the day.”

The Mendip Mule statement also said: “We have also experienced people deliberately parking their cars badly on the approach to our depot at Colyton Station in an attempt to make access difficult.

“The poor parking would also obstruct emergency vehicles attempting to access the tramway, nearby houses and the adjacent business units.

“The same resident who is parking badly, has previously told Derek that he doesn’t believe there is a place for open top bus tours in this part of the country.”

The service started small-scale in 2015 before running a full season last year without any problems, according to Mr Gawn.

The fare for services after 1.50pm last Sunday were set to be removed, with passe- ngers being asked to make a donation of at least £5 to the RNLI instead.

Chief Reporter | Started his working life on a farm before becoming a screen printer, both in Sweden. Had another career change and turned to journalism in the mid1990s. Enjoyed an internship with Alexandria Gazette Packet, Va, USA, before moving to the UK. Got a job with The Clarion in Yeovil in 1998, but moved to Axminster in 2006 and has worked on the East Devon beat since.