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Police to hold Gretna bus bother talks

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By Ben Murray
Annan and Eskdale
Police to hold Gretna bus bother talks

POLICE and bus operators will meet on Monday to discuss anti social behaviour on services in Gretna.

It comes as all evening bus services to central Gretna have again been cancelled by Stagecoach until further notice due to escalating problems locally.

Officers will now travel to the depot in Carlisle to meet drivers and bus bosses and hear about their experiences over the last few weeks and months.

Incidents have ranged from food and milk being thrown at bus windows, youths running alongside the bus and hitting the driver’s window, pressing the emergency stop button to switch off the buses’ engine, and even falsely accusing drivers of assault.

Originally Stagecoach limited the services to Central Avenue from Friday to Sundays after 7.30 pm, followed by reducing evening services for an entire week.

However on Monday, Gretna residents found a notice at the stop explaining that these restrictions would now persist ‘until further notice’.

Tom Waterhouse, operations director at Stagecoach, this week said: “Following our recent decision to recommence serving Gretna, Central Avenue after 7 pm, disappointingly, we have continued to experience issues at other stops in Gretna along Annan Road.

“As a result of this, we have reluctantly taken the decision to reintroduce our measures of not serving the area after 7 pm at night.

“From November 14, and until further notice, we will not be serving any stops in Gretna after 7 pm other than Crossways Garage and Gretna Gateway.

“We’re sorry that we have had to put this measure in place due to the behaviour of a small group of individuals.

“This decision has only been taken due to the persistent issues we have been experiencing with individuals jeopardising the safety of not only themselves, but also others, by tampering with operational elements of our vehicles.

“We are sadly left with no other option than to stop serving these stops at the times stated above.

Meanwhile, Chief Inspector Robin Ferguson, of Police Scotland, said: “I would like to reassure members of our local community that officers have been actively responding to concerns raised by residents about youth disorder and antisocial behaviour affecting bus routes in Gretna.

“There will be additional patrols in the area to offer reassurance to the public and to identify anyone involved in this antisocial behaviour.

“We will continue to deal proactively with those who engage in antisocial behaviour and crimes which have a negative impact on our community wellbeing.”

Community councillors have called on residents to pull together and chairwoman Kirsten Herbst-Gray said: “Stagecoach’s renewed decision not to serve bus stops in Gretna after 7 pm is a major disappointment to those who rely on the bus and residents struggling to get from Caledonian Park to the other end of the township.

“It will have a huge negative impact – especially on the young and the elderly.

“The situation can only be improved if everyone involved works together and everyone understands their responsibility. It is essential that all incidents are reported to the police as otherwise they cannot respond.”

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