BUS passengers outraged at the sacking of one of their favourite drivers have been gathering a petition in an attempt to get him reinstated. Mike Grigg, from Ilfracombe, was dismissed in February by First Bus after taking a short cut across the new bridge

BUS passengers outraged at the sacking of one of their favourite drivers have been gathering a petition in an attempt to get him reinstated.Mike Grigg, from Ilfracombe, was dismissed in February by First Bus after taking a short cut across the new bridge to avoid Barnstaple town centre at rush hour.Several of his former Ilfracombe passengers were infuriated and have gone on the campaign trail, so far collecting 450 signatures around the town.They have canvassed people in the High Street and left petition forms in shops, receiving a great deal of support from many in the town who know Mike."We think the company's decision was just wrong - it was an extreme reaction," said Lindsay Wilson, campaign organiser."Drivers go the wrong way all the time, so we think he is being unfairly punished."Mike was the sort of driver who, if you put your kids on a bus, you would know they would be safe. "He was safe, reliable, courteous - all of the things you want in a bus driver."Lindsay said several petitions they had left in High Street shops - some full - had disappeared, with proprietors at a loss as to where they had gone.Undaunted, supporters intend to gather more names - petitions remain at Nana Sue's Sun Foods at the bottom of Oxford Grove - then present them to First. Mike, 43, had been with First for six years before his suspension, dismissal and finally a failed appeal."It's very touching and nice to know people still care about me," he told the Gazette."They all think it's been a bit extreme and that for what I did, the penalty was too severe, especially when other drivers have done exactly the same and they get nothing."First South West and Wales spokesman Andy Barr said the company stood by to its original statement, that it could not comment on individual cases and the company took a very serious line when it came to drivers running early, because it was distressing for passengers who ended up missing their bus.But he added: "We welcome people to send their petition in but at this stage we are not changing our decision and we stick by our original verdict.