A NORTH Devon bus driver has been sacked for taking a shortcut to avoid a busy town centre.Mike Grigg, 43, from Ilfracombe, claimed he had an exemplary six-year driving record with First Bus. But it didn't count for anything when he was hauled before bosses for trying to avoid rush hour traffic on the afternoon North Devon College run.On Monday, January 28, the father-of-two said he decided to use the new Downstream Bridge to make his next pick-up at Chivenor, because of road works on Rolle Street, Barnstaple.But after being clocked by bosses arriving 10 minutes early in Braunton, he was suspended on full pay before being dismissed for gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing days later."I was gobsmacked, I didn't know what to say," he told the Gazette."I just can't see how going over the bridge and running early can be classed as gross misconduct."I hadn't missed out any stops and I felt that going into town at twenty-to-five with a double-decker bus when I didn't have to was just stupid."Mr Grigg said that because of the road works at Rolle Street in previous weeks, drivers had been told they could use the new bridge if they had no town centre pick-ups."I just assumed that I could still use it. I thought I was getting my passengers to their destination quicker," he added."I admitted I may have left the college a couple of minutes early and had made a mistake, but am still amazed that this was a sackable offence."Mr Grigg said he had enjoyed his six years as a bus driver for First Bus and only last summer, had been given top marks by one of the company's "secret passengers.""The assessor marked me 100 per cent for my driving, pulling away from stops correctly, passenger courtesy and for my cheerfulness," he said.Two years ago, Mr Grigg said he was commended by a member of the public, who wrote to his bosses to praise him for the way he had looked after a fellow passenger who had had an epileptic fit."If you love driving - and I do - it's a cracking job. I really enjoyed it and haven't thought about what I'm going to do now," he added.After writing to First to appeal against the decision, Mr Grigg attended an appeal hearing on Friday but was told the decision to dismiss him was being upheld.First South West and Wales spokesperson Andy Barr said the company was unable comment on individual cases. "I am keen to stress that we take a very serious line when it comes to the issue of drivers running early," he said."We know how distressing it is for our passengers when they find a bus they wanted to catch has gone ahead of schedule and we take issues of this nature very seriously.