A PETITION has been launched in Lyme Regis to reinstate the town's 'vital' number 71 Saturday bus service after fears businesses are losing trade.

The plea was issued to councillors at a town management committee meeting last Wednesday, June 11.

A petition with almost 3000 signatures in support of the Saturday bus was presented by Louise Crockett from the town's Penny Black Café, and cllr Cheryl Reynolds urged people to lend their support.

The number 71 previously ran Monday to Saturday but was scrapped on a Saturday following a recent review by Dorset County Council.

It failed to meet the Saturday service requirement of carrying an average of 20 passengers per journey and was stopped on April 6 this year.

The loss of the Saturday service caused anger among people in the town including resident John Hounsell who labelled the service as 'vital'.

Louise Crockett from the Penny Black Café addressed town councillors in the meeting's public forum.

She said: “Saturday used to be our busiest trading day but is now our quietest.

“I present a petition with 300 signatures here from our cafe alone supporting the Saturday bus.

“It's a shame when people cannot get to weekend events such as the D-Day celebrations or the Jazz Weekend.

“It just doesn't make sense to have no town bus on a Saturday, especially as parking for the disabled is very bad in Lyme.”

Cllr Cheryl Reynolds told councillors that Lyme Regis has the highest percentage of over 65s in the whole of Dorset, at 45 per cent.

She added: “That, coupled with Lyme's hilly terrain, makes accessing the town very difficult.

“I'm asking that we go back to Dorset County Council urging them to reinstate the Saturday bus service - we have a special case to make.

“For the petition we require 1000 signatures for the matter to be looked at again by DCC.”

Cllr Lucy Campbell labelled the Saturday bus service as 'crucial' while operations manager Elliott Herbert told councillors that cutting the Saturday service has enabled Dorset County Council to save £9000.

Mayor of Lyme Regis Cllr Sally Holman urged councillors to look at alternative ways the service can be funded.

A recommendation was made by Cllr Owen Lovell that the council support the 1000 signature petition before taking the matter back to Dorset County Council.

The recommendation was met with a unanimous vote by councillors, and will be considered by Full Council on June 25.