VISITORS flocking to Lyme Regis for Thursday’s display by the Red Arrows can take advantage of a free park and ride facility – but no service will operate during the rest of the summer.

Lyme Regis Town Council is funding the service which will run from both Sidmouth Road and Charmouth Road for free, with a bus taking passengers to the town centre.

The service, which will be run by First Group using double decker buses, will help reduce traffic on one of the busiest days of the year.

Buses will run on a loop between the two sites from 10am until 7.35pm, stopping at Holmbush car park, Cobb Gate and Charmouth Road. The Red Arrows are set to perform at 6.15pm.

In exchange for free parking, visitors will be encouraged to make a donation to the Red Arrows fund, to help bring the team back to Lyme Regis in 2018.

The town council called an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday 26 July when members approved a proposal from First Group to operate a park and ride for the summer period.

Since the meeting, the council has been informed the bus company will no longer be able to run the summer service.

Deputy mayor, Cllr Steve Miller said: “Following the extraordinary meeting, First Group has informed the council that regrettably, it will not be able to deliver the park and ride service for 2017 as originally intended.

“First Group has tried everything it reasonably could to get the service up and running, including contacting numerous other operators within the south west to see if they could run the service on a sub-contracted basis.

“First Group also attempted to secure additional agency drivers but this has not been possible for the summer holiday period, despite going as far afield as Slough and offering to pay local accommodation costs.”

He added: “Although the council is very disappointed the service will not run until early-September as intended, it appreciates First Group has done all it can to provide this service and the circumstances are beyond the control of either First Group or the council.

“As a last resort, First Group is able to provide a service on Red Arrows day, which the council will fully fund.

“The council is pleased there will at least be a park and ride on the busiest day of the year, which will hopefully relieve the pressure on the town and ensure anyone travelling from outside the town will be able to park and enjoy the Red Arrows.

“Not only will visitors be able to park, but they will be able to park for free thanks to the council’s funding. Hopefully the money saved will be spent elsewhere in the town to give our local economy a boost.”

The town council remains committed to providing a comprehensive park and ride service in 2018 and beyond and has already received a detailed proposal from First Group.