Bus service cuts to Midhurst on Sundays and bank holidays are set to hit tourism at the heart of the South Downs National Park.
And community leaders are urging West Sussex County Council to step in and subsidise them to save the threat to the town’s economy.
Stagecoach is withdrawing its number 70 buses between Midhurst and Haslemere and number 92 services between Midhurst and Petersfield on Sundays and bank holidays when government grant funding finishes at the end of May.
It also means Midhurst people without cars cannot reach railway stations at Haslemere or Petersfield on Sundays.
In addition the 60 Bognor Regis, Chichester, Midhurst service will only operate between Chichester and Midhurst. Passengers will have to transfer to a new service to travel on.
At a meeting of Midhurst Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee chairman Carol Lintott described the decision as ‘awful’ and asked her committee to recommend full council to lobby the county council to look at funding the services.
Philippa McCullough, a representative from the Midhurst Tourism Partnership said: “We are just coming into the busiest time of year for tourists, so the timing couldn’t be worse. As we are at the heart of the South Downs National Park we support the park’s position on environmentally sustainable tourism and see this move as detrimental for Midhurst and the surrounding area.”
County councillor Gordon McAra said: “Midhurst and local villages seem to be taking a disproportional hit on the withdrawal of government grants. Just like the lack of reliable broadband and no permanent police presence, rural areas continue to suffer despite paying the same taxes as everyone else. There is an inherent unfairness in the way resources are allocated.”
John Quilter, member of the Town Team set up to promote Midhurst said: “This will make it very difficult for visitors without cars to enjoy the South Downs National Park. We feel it is going against the ethos of the national park set up to allow people to enjoy its countryside. The withdrawal of services to stations at Petersfield and Haslemere will certainly damage the ability of people to get here.”
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