Honk for Hope heads west

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On Monday 17 August the Honk for Hope protest headed for Wales and the West of England to continue to raise awareness of the coach industry’s plight. Richard Sharman was in Bristol to watch the convoy pass through and see people’s reactions

The fourth Honk for Hope protest rally set its sights on the Welsh capital to kick off Monday morning, before leaving Cardiff to head for Bristol.

The convoy of approximately 70 coaches started the protest off at 1100hrs, travelling through Cardiff with a police escort and attracting much attention. It then moved onto Bristol, arriving near the Bristol Aquarium at 1320hrs. Edwards Coaches’ smart red Mercedes-Benz Tourismo M led the convoy and set the pace, allowing those caught by traffic lights further back to catch up.

This particular area of Bristol is home to several hotels and posh residential flats; as the convoy arrived and the distinctive sound of air horns started blaring, balconies started filling up with residents looking out to see what all the noise was about!

People then came out into the streets as the convoy got longer and started asking what Honk for Hope was all about. People appeared to be searching for it on their phones and then started talking about it. Members of the public were also filming the coaches coming past, whilst others showed support by clapping.

Roadworks on Anchor Road, bringing the road down to one lane at the traffic light controlled junction, slowed the convoy but allowed more time for those involved to get their point across to the watching public.

The convoy then carried on through the Harbourside area of the city, where there were many more people enjoying the sun, allowing further exposure for Honk for Hope. A local TV crew was also on hand to film the coaches passing by.

Hope for Hope has had some critics in the industry, suggesting that it has become a ‘jolly’ and that these operators are wasting money in taking part…but out on the street the effort that these operators are putting in is paying off. The public is certainly behind the cause, it has drawn TV news coverage at every location visited and MPs are starting to get on board with trying to get those higher up to agree to funding for coach operators.

The convoy headed on through Bristol, using The Bearpit roundabout to access the M32 and then meet at Chepstow racecourse after. The original plan was to then head for London for a further protest the following day, but it was jointly decided between group members that more vehicles would be taxed and available from 1 September. This is currently the date and location for the next protest, but alternative options are being discussed, the thinking being that a mass protest in various cities around the UK may have more of an effect.

Up to date information on Honk for Hope UK and the next protest can be found here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1165031013851428