[Seaton] “Pensioners ‘with vendetta against open top bus’ accused of vandalism”

AT LAST more information – from a London newspaper! And one might question the logic of people buying homes in front of an existing coach park and then finding it a problem!

“A group of pensioners have been accused of launching a vendetta against an open-top bus service.

Derek Gawn, 64, believes his 1950s buses have been targeted by residents living in flats that overlook a pus park where they stop.

He said that drivers have faced abusive language and have had pictures taken of them by angry locals.

On one occasion he said wheel nuts were loosened on his buses while in the past he’s found his buses blocked in by their cars.

The final straw for Mr Gawn came when he believes someone set up fake Facebook accounts to give low reviews and to impersonate a councillor to complain about it.

Mr Gawn said the ‘whining and moaning’ objectors had caused him so much stress that he has decided to withdraw the popular service which has been used by 20,000 people this year.

He started up the venture three years ago to take passengers on a scenic tour of Beer, Colyton and Seaton in Devon and Lyme Regis and Charmouth in Dorset.

The main flash point has been the bus park on the seafront at Seaton next to the block of flats which was built in 2002.

Mr Gawn said: ‘The open top bus tour has been withdrawn due to hostility from a small minority of local residents towards our staff.

‘We have taken the decision after me and my staff have been subject to tirades from a few local residents in the Seaton and Colyton area.
‘Sadly a couple of residents of the flats have taken to shouting at the drivers for parking our buses in the bus park, as they don’t want them outside their flat.

‘There was a slight issue with the fact we run older vehicles which obviously pre-date emissions tests and when they start up on a cold morning they can be a little bit smokey but they’ve passed all their tests. All the engines were shut down once they were parked.

‘It has been elderly people in all cases. It is the same type of people who buy a house next a railway and then complain about trains, despite the railway having been there for over hundred years.

‘It isn’t for the bus drivers to be shouted at by residents and we no longer wish to subject our staff to such behavior from a small minority of locals.
‘We have experienced people deliberately parking their cars badly on the approach to our depot at Colyton Station in an attempt to make access difficult.

‘We had one resident taking pictures of the drivers arriving in their own private cars.

‘Recently we even had a bus tampered with at night. All the wheel nuts were loosened on one wheel, and the wheel nut indicators were all put back on to cover the damage. That’s dangerous and could kill people.’

Mr Gawn said that he was even confronted by a group of residents after he had loaned two double decker buses to be used as grandstands in the bus park for a recent carnival.

He said: ‘We had a deputation of about five people which did upset me. We were doing it for charity and they still complained.’

He added: ‘The whole thing has made me ill from the stress of repeatedly dealing with these people.

‘The final nails were not mechanical issues or the weather. It was the continual whining of a few people.

‘I do realise that 99 per cent of people do support us, but I can no longer cope with the one per cent.’

A spokesman for Kingsdale, the company that manages the flats, said residents had an issue with the noisy engines.

He said: ‘The complaints being made by residents relate to coach services generally and not specifically the Mendip Mule.

‘It’s about drivers who leave their engines running while they’re not moving. This is a long-running thing and there have been complaints about that practice.

‘In the case of the carnival the issues were related to the fact he parked his vehicles length-ways and was blocking the view, but that’s got nothing to do with his service.’

Pensioners ‘with vendetta against open top bus’ accused of vandalism

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