Anger after Tesco decides to scrap free buses to Norwich superstore
- Credit: Danny Douglas
Campaigners have launched a bid to get an 11th hour reprieve for axe-threatened free bus services to Tesco.
Tesco has decided to stop paying Konectbus to run the T1 and T2 free bus services to its Blue Boar Lane superstore at Sprowston, which means they will run for the final time this Friday.
The decision has sparked anger from people who use the buses, which take shoppers from Thorpe St Andrew, Heartsease, Catton and Hellesdon to the store from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
A petition has been launched urging Tesco to reconsider, with supporters saying the buses are lifelines for the elderly and help them to keep their independence.
Labour activist Natasha Harpley, who has started a petition at www.change.org urging Tesco to think again, said: 'Many Tesco free bus users are elderly or disabled and completely reliant on this service.
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'Without any consultation, Tesco have decided that uptake of these services is not high enough to justify continuing them and have suggested that customers either do their shopping online, or use payable First bus services via Norwich city centre instead.
'The timing of this couldn't be worse - just four weeks before Christmas; putting even more pressure on what is an already difficult and stressful time for many.'
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She has urged 'a stay of execution' to allow customer suggestions to be considered, including that services are reduced to two or three days a week, instead of being completely withdrawn.
Emyr Riddock, who lives on the Heartsease estate, described the decision as 'a joke'.
He branded the suggestion of getting a bus into the city centre and then another one to Tesco was 'ridiculous' and added: 'I may as well just get one bus to Morrisons instead.'
Jessica Walker, Tesco's regional communications manager for the East of England, said it had been a 'difficult decision' to stop the services.
She said: 'We regret that we have not been able to make this service work and would like to apologise to customers who enjoyed using it.
'We are working with affected customers to help them find alternative provision so they can continue to access the store.
'There are other local bus services that will provide an alternative for the route, including the 11 and 12 bus which mirrors the T1 route.'
Will the loss of the free buses affect you? Write, giving full contact details to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org