Convoy of coaches travels down A1 in call for more support for tourist industry

Around 70 coaches have staged a call for support as the lockdown eases by heading down the A1 in a huge convoy.

By Fiona Thompson
Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 12:00 pm

Honk for Hope UK’s organisers say they want their businesses to backed by the Government after they did not qualify for the same level of support given to bus service operators in its response to the coronavirus crisis.

Their rally saw them gather at Washington Services today (Wednesday, July 1) before they made their way to Lightwater Valley, giving their horns a beep as they passed under the A690 interchange at Carrville, on the outskirts of Durham.

A host of operators from across the North East were joined by others from across the country, with coaches also joining the rally as it headed south.

The coaches head along the A1 from Washington Services.

Blyth-based Matthew Forsyth, who leads the MJ Forsyth company, helped organise the event.

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He said: “We hope people take notice and we want to get the coach industry recognised and get the Government to understand we need help as well.

“We were among the first ones to be hit and we’ll be the last back as well.

Coach drivers get ready to take part in the convoy.

“The other problem is that the furlough scheme will stop later in the summer and we’re fast heading towards that, we think a lot of drivers are going to be made redundant.”

The organisers have said they will look to plan a convoy to London if they need to stage another protest as part of their campaign.

Honk for Hope UK is running parallel with Honk for Hope Europe, with motorcades taking place across 12 cities in unison with Hope for Hope UK’s efforts.

It is calling for Governments across the continent to save tour buses and help support international tourism so people can spend their money in hotels, restaurants and museums.

Matthew Forsyth, of MJ Forsyth, was one of the organisers of the Honk for Hope UK rally.

Its leaders say coach operators should be given non-refundable compensation for the standing days during the COVID-19 lockdown, are calling for equal treatment with airlines, trains and public buses and say there must be “clear guidelines regarding the re-opening of tourism, as well as senseful and equal rules concerning COVID-19 prevention measures.”

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Around 70 coaches were expected to take part in the rally.

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