Activity bus funding slashed

West View People's Park, Martindale Avenue, Fleetwood. Campaigning to get their bus back, are Karen Lamb (Dream Scheme organiser), Shaun MacNeil (vice chairman West View Community Association) and  PCSO Anne Mullins (Youth Involvement), with Nicola Whitaker (11), Cory Clarke (11), Chloe Ingham (11), Tyler Halliwell (9), David Collinson (9), Finn Whyte (11) and Ewan Ritson (11).

West View People's Park, Martindale Avenue, Fleetwood. Campaigning to get their bus back, are Karen Lamb (Dream Scheme organiser), Shaun MacNeil (vice chairman West View Community Association) and PCSO Anne Mullins (Youth Involvement), with Nicola Whitaker (11), Cory Clarke (11), Chloe Ingham (11), Tyler Halliwell (9), David Collinson (9), Finn Whyte (11) and Ewan Ritson (11).

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PLEASE bring our fun bus back - that’s the message from children who have lost a vital community service.

Funding has run out for the weekly activities bus which was proving a huge success.

Every Friday night the vehicle would turn up at the estate’s People’s Park and youngsters would be able to go onboard, play Wii games, watch TV and make use of the tuck shop.

Some nights up to 100 young people and children would congregate there.

Community leaders and police officers say the bus helped reduce rates of anti-social behaviour because it kept the bored youngsters out of trouble.

And the youngsters themselves say the bus made life a lot better for them every Friday night.

However, the funding source which kept the bus going came to an end at Christmas – and without an alternative cash source, the wheels have stopped rolling.

The police, housing group Regenda, Wyre Council and West View Community Association all agree the bus has helped to reduce crime and nuisance problems - but the harsh economic climate means further funding is now a major issue.

Shaun MacNeill, vice chairman of the West View Community Association, said: “It’s a huge disappointment that the money has run out.

“This bus did a brilliant job of bringing local children together in a positive way, it was a real asset for the whole estate.

“We know that incidents of youth nuisance and anti-social behaviour went down when the bus came.

“We are hoping another source of cash can be found, because it really was a great success.”

Meanwhile, at West View, youngsters on the estate spoke about the bus.

Aiden Foster, 12, said: “The bus gave a chance to meet up with lots of different kids who normally wouldn’t be there.

“It got us all together. I was gutted when I heard it wasn’t coming any more.”

Scott Yates, 13, added: “When it’s not there, we’re properly bored.”

Local dad Mick Roberts, of Martindale Avenue, said: “That bus has been a Godsend for the kids over the last year.”

PC Ian Lester, of Fleetwood police, has been a key figure with the fun bus.

When the police were able to make use of the vehicle via owner Lancashire County Council under the Pied Piper funding scheme, he helped run it for a year thanks to this police cash.

When that ran out, he worked with Wyre Council and Regenda, along with Coun Terry Rogers, to get a little more money for a few more months.

Volunteers from Tommy’s Club For Young People helped out free of charge, but the cost of hiring the actual bus was high.

PC Lester said: “We have documentary proof that the bus reduced anti-social problems and vandalism.

“It’s no one’s fault the money has run out, but it is a great shame.”

Coun Rogers and fellow Rossall councillor, Rita Hewitt, made a bid to Wyre Council’s Shaping Your Community Fund last year, knowing the cash was coming to an end.

But the bid was unsuccessful on the grounds that the scheme was unsustainable.

Coun Rogers said: “I would argue that this bus is sustainable.

“The reduction of anti-social behaviour more than compensates for the cost of dealing with those issues.

“We were bitterly disappointed that it was turned down.”

Coun Rogers remains hopeful that the value of the bus will be recognised and funding will be found – from one source or other.