The Honk for Hope movement will turn its attention to London on Monday 20 July with a protest that organisers hope could attract 500 coaches. It aims to draw further government attention to the plight of the industry after ministers rejected support proposals on 15 July.
An event in London follows two earlier Honk for Hope gatherings in the north of England, at Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire on 1 July and in Blackpool (pictured) on 14 July that was held concurrently with a protest in West Wales. It being organised by Jenna Rush, Managing Director of North East Coach Travel, and Alan Chown, General Manager at Dhillon of London.
Westminster drive-by hoped for in Honk for Hope London
Final details and timings will be announced later on Friday 17 July, but the day will start with many coaches initially meeting at Beaconsfield, Cobham, Reading and South Mimms motorway service areas. They will then head towards central London via the M4, joining a further group from Heston services on the way.
The exact route to be followed from there is still to be decided. Ms Rush and Mr Chown are working with the Metropolitan Police to finalise those plans, but the hope is to involve a drive through Westminster, including Parliament Square.
The convoy will not stop in Central London and Mr Chown has stressed that laws must be observed at all times if public opinion is to be swayed in support of the coach industry.
“We want to have the maximum impact with no inconvenience,” he says. “There must be no negative publicity. The Metropolitan Police is happy with the approach that we have taken and has thanked us for liaising with it ahead of the protest.”
Mr Chown has also reassured operators that may be concerned about the Traffic Commissioners’ views on those participating. “We have asked about any potential issues and were told by a TC that they have no problem with our actions if it is all carried out legally.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport is assisting the Honk for Hope organisers with some logistical considerations, including for parking arrangements after the road run through central London.
Media involvement planned for latest protest
Efforts are being made to secure the use of a parking area that is large enough to accommodate all coaches in attendance after the drive-through of Central London. If that is not possible, an alternative will involve around 40 coaches stopping in an authorised location where media interviews will take place.
As of the morning of Friday 17 July, 300 coaches were confirmed for the protest. But the organisers hope that number will rise to 500 over the weekend.
“London will have never seen anything like this. We are expecting many operators that have already participated in Honk for Hope protests to be present along with more from the South East and from as far away as Cornwall and Wales,” he adds.