COUNCIL plans to introduce free tourist buses have come under fire.
Putting Hartlepool First, the second largest party within Hartlepool Borough Council, have branded the plans as “ludicrous”.
The council plans to trial run free buses during holiday periods between Hartlepool’s main tourist attractions including Seaton, the marina and the Headland in a £7,000 project.
Putting Hartlepool First councillor David Riddle has called for “not one second of council officers’ valuable time to be wasted on such a ridiculous idea.”
Councillor Riddle added many Hartlepool taxi drivers risk having their livelihoods being put in jeopardy by the free buses.
He said: “Taxi drivers already have to work long hours to make ends meet, often spending hours sat on the taxi ranks, unpaid, waiting for a fare. The very idea that a series of free buses could be economically beneficial to our town is a nonsense, if anything it could put taxi drivers on the dole.”
Fellow Putting Hartlepool first Councillor, Geoff Lilley, added: “Bus companies are already cutting some routes across the town and many bus services don’t run at all beyond 6.30pm. This proposal doesn’t sound like it sends a very good message to professional bus companies across the town.”
But councillor Robbie Payne, chair of the Regeneration Services Committee, said: “This proposal is part of our ongoing efforts to explore every opportunity to improve the town and make it more attractive to visitors.
“Tourism is big business to Hartlepool as it brings in around £120m to the local economy a year, supports 2,000 jobs and attracts three million visitors each year. We are committed to building on the good work which has already been done to make Hartlepool an attractive destination for visitors.”