Update: Residents express fury as bus service is suspended in busy Gosport road

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A bus company has scrapped services along a Gosport road after repeated vandalism by children.

First Bus says it will not operate in Howe Road, Gosport, until Friday morning because of the attacks, leaving residents frustrated due to a lack of warning.

In a statement released on its Twitter account, the company said: ‘Due to another incident of vandalism to our buses we will be “pulling out” from Howe Road from now until close of play on Thursday 12th August.

‘We are aware that this will cause a lot of inconvenience to our customers.

‘The level of damage to our vehicles and the possible safety aspects to our customers is our main concern.

‘We shall reinstate our service through Howe Road from start of service on Friday with the hope that the message will get out to those who need to take responsibility for their child’s actions.’

Locals living in and around Howe Road were given little notice about the suspended services, which affects routes 9 and 9A, and warnings on bus stops down the street were nowhere to be seen.

Eileen and Michael Petty were planning to go to Gosport town centre for the afternoon until The News informed them that services were not running.

Eileen, 67, said: ‘This is the first thing we’ve heard about it and it is a disgrace it has happened.

‘There are a lot of people in his area that do not drive and need the service to get about.

‘Usually they’re really reliable and come every 15 minutes and it’s handy because we live just around the corner.

Michael, 86, added: ‘I suppose we will have to pay to get a taxi into town now.’

Patricia Davies, who lives in Frobisher Close, would have been late for work if she hadn’t been told by a kind passer-by the buses weren’t running.

She said: ‘I had to walk to work today, which took me about 45 minutes and I just got in time by the skin of the teeth.

‘It’s out of order as people rely on the buses around here, especially me for work, and I’m lucky I got in on time today.

‘I’ve seen the kids dropping stones on the buses before - it’s been happening for years and it’s dangerous.’

Mr and Mrs Miller, who have four young children, also expressed their anger.

Mr Miller said: ‘It’s the older people we feel sorry for because we managed to see it on Facebook.

‘The nearest bus stops to us are Nimrod Drive or Williams Close - both are at least a 10 minute walk.

Mrs Miller added: ‘There’s an older man who lives not far from us going to the bus stop every day to go and get his paper. It takes him a while to get to here, so I don’t know how he is going to get around.’

A spokesperson for First said: ‘The safety of passengers and staff is an absolute priority.

‘First Bus operates a zero tolerance approach to acts of aggression and vandalism, and reserves the right to change routes or withdraw services from areas where it is not possible to operate safely.

‘Notices have been put in place to advise customers that the 9 and 9A service will resume normal operations as of Friday August 12.’

Hampshire Police confirmed they have been contacted by First, but did not recommend the company to suspend its services down Howe Road.

Inspector Tracy Scrase said: “We can confirm that over the past few months a handful of reports of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour in the Howe Road area of Gosport have been made to us.

‘We are aware of concerns being raised by local motorists and First Bus, and the Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) is carrying out work in the area to tackle this problem.

‘On Saturday afternoon between 2pm and 4pm we have a beat surgery in Alver Village Square where we will be able to discuss any concerns that local residents have.

‘In addition we are increasing patrols in the area and working with partner agencies including Gosport Borough Council and First Bus to resolve this issue.

‘Anti-social behaviour like this can cause a hazard to motorists and can impact the local community, I’d urge anyone who has seen anything suspicious in the Howe Road area to contact us on 101.’