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Buses under attack - services to Millbrook suspended after yobs hurl bricks and stones
A BUS firm stopped services through a housing estate after young vandals pelted a single-decker with bricks and stones.
It is one of eight incidents in which buses have been targeted by youths in the area since Saturday, according to police. No one has been hurt.
Blue Star suspended its routes through Millbrook from 9pm to midnight on Monday. Now the company says it could withdraw its vehicles for longer if the vandalism continues.
Most of the incidents took place near Mansel Park. A number of First buses have also been targeted.
Blue Star operations manager Paul Coin took the decision to withdraw his firm’s buses for the safety of staff and passengers.
He said: “We know that by withdrawing a service we’re disadvantaging loyal customers, which is something we don’t want to do, but we have to put the safety of our drivers and customers first.
“We are monitoring it on a daily basis. We may take a view that we might have to withdraw for a lengthier period next time but the last thing we want to do is make Millbrook a no go area.”
The suspension of services has dismayed residents.
Chris Fox, 72, a retired company director, from Millbrook, said: “There are a lot of people who don’t have cars and are on benefits, so they rely on the buses to get into the city centre.”
A spokeswoman for First Hampshire & Dorset confirmed that the company had also had problems with anti social behaviour in Millbrook.
She said: “While relatively rare, incidents like these can be dangerous and if a member of the public were to be caught up in one – being hit by one of the objects thrown – it could cause significant injury.”
Both bus firms are working with the police to prevent further vandalism.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: “This seems to be mindless acts of vandalism by youths throwing stones or similar items at the buses and breaking windows, which sometimes then shatter.
“Not only does this put the passengers and driver in real danger from breaking glass and the distraction but it also means the buses have to be repaired. which takes them off the road. This can affect everyone who uses the bus service in Millbrook.
“We will be working with the bus companies to try and catch those responsible and would urge anyone with any information about who is carrying out the vandalism to contact us.”
Blue Star buses were running as usual yesterday.
Anyone with information should contact the Shirley Safer Neighbourhoods team on 101 or Crimestoppers an-onymously on 0800 555 111.