London protest likely to set a record

The third Honk for Hope UK protest rally, heading for central London, seems set to breaks all records for an assembly of coaches, with 250 committed but more than 300 expected


A third Honk for Hope UK protest targeting central London has got the backing of trade associations and promises to attract as many as 300 coaches.

Following events at Lightwater Valley and Blackpool, Honk for Hope organisers have targeted central London next Monday, 20 July with a huge rally which has already attracted the attention of the national press. Many operators have been galvanised by Thursday’s (16 July) message from Baroness Vere of Norbiton, the ‘buses minister,’ that there is no help available for the devastated coach industry.

Coach operators have been reeling since March, with coaches laid up and staff furloughed. Effectively, government advice for people to avoid public transport, the closure of tourist attractions, the end of inbound tourism, and the decision by many schools to suspend contract payments has been a perfect storm which has left many operators with no income at all.

Additionally, many councils are refusing to accept that coach operations are leisure and tourism businesses, and as a result those who would be eligible cannot enjoy business rates relief.

Since the news on Thursday, the Confederation of Passenger Transport has lent its moral support. CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: “The event shows the strength of feeling within the coach industry about the lack of Covid-19 support they have received from government.

“The industry will be central to helping 100,000s of children return to school in September, but its ability to do so is being put under threat through a failure to provide much needed help at a time when it is desperately needed as a result of unprecedented cancellations and a fall in new bookings.

“CPT shares the industry’s extreme disappointment that it has been forgotten by government and will continue to press for government to deliver the support the industry rightly needs.”

“While CPT has worked tirelessly on behalf of coach operators to try and secure the support they need and will continue to make the case to government it is also important that we show solidarity with our members today and I look forward to being part of the Honk for Hope rally.”
Steve Whiteway, CPT President

CPT President Steve Whiteway said: “Coach operators across the country are understandably angry at the lack of support they have been offered to date. Many robust and viable businesses now face the very real threat of closure.

“While CPT has worked tirelessly on behalf of coach operators to try and secure the support they need and will continue to make the case to government it is also important that we show solidarity with our members today and I look forward to being part of the Honk for Hope rally.”

The London event is being co-ordinated again by Jenna Rush, MD of North East Coach Travel, and Matthew Forsyth of Forsyth Travel, alongside local co-ordinator Alan Chown, General Manager of Dhillon of London. The route is now finalised. Full details below. Operators wishing to bring a vehicle should first check in and register their vehicle with Jenna at the Honk for Hope UK Facebook group.

The event has already gained the approval of the Metropolitan Police: “They even wished us luck,” said Jenna. “We are all hoping and praying the CPT have had a successful meeting today and if we get a good response from government before Monday then there would obviously be no reason for this event to go ahead,” Jenna had said, but help was not forthcoming.

The event has come too late for some operators, such as GA Smith of Tring. Others are one a knife’s edge: “We are a family business with 26 years of our blood, sweat and tears,” said Christine Walker, a Director of Abbey Coaches in Glasgow. “We had an overflowing diary that disappeared overnight. Our finance break is now over and we have to start paying for the tour coaches that are sitting empty. We live on hope of making it through another winter without the benefit of a good summer.”



Meeting locations and departure times

  • Reading Services 09:10
  • Cobham Services 09:20
  • Beaconsfield Services 09:35
  • South Mimms 09:10
  • Heston Services 10:00

The convoys will be will be meeting from each service station to form one big convoy on the M25 on to the M4 then onto Cromwell Road, on to the embankment via the A3220 and  along the embankment until they reach Tower Bridge. They will then use the one-way system around the Minories, back onto the embankment and back out the way they came in. See route maps below for clarity.

“We have had numerous conversations with The Metropolitan Police and this route was deemed the best for not only minimum disruption but for maximum exposure of just how many coaches are in convoy together,” said Jenna Rush. “We are aiming to be on Cromwell Road for 11am.
Honk for Hope UK is still hoping to find a venue to meet up after the convoy: “We have been working tirelessly for two days and the venues we have approached that would be big enough to hold all coaches have unfortunately said no to us,” said Jenna.
“Thank you to the CPT who have also worked tirelessly all day looking for venues. We will keep trying on this over the weekend so please watch out for updates.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses some unobtrusive cookies to store information on your computer, these are in place to ensure that you receive the best possible experience when using the Bus & Coach Buyer website.