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‘It has ruined everything’ - Villagers say bus service cuts have left them isolated

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 December 2019 | UPDATED: 07:48 24 December 2019

Pip Ryland waiting for a First Bus with fellow travellers which failed to show up. Picture: Pip Ryland

Pip Ryland waiting for a First Bus with fellow travellers which failed to show up. Picture: Pip Ryland

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Villagers say cuts to a vital bus service, which has sparked 40 complaints, will hit vulnerable people hardest.

Brooke villagers waiting in the rain and cold for a bus which did not arrive. Picture: Pip RylandBrooke villagers waiting in the rain and cold for a bus which did not arrive. Picture: Pip Ryland

In April, First Bus reduced its 41 service, which travels through Brooke to Norwich, from every half an hour to once every two hours due to low passenger numbers.

Since then villagers say they have been left isolated and raised concerns over the impact on vulnerable and elderly people, who used the service to travel to doctor appointments at Poringland surgery.

Jane Ryland, 68, who lives on St Peters Road, said: "It is a nightmare. The problem is vulnerable people, they are basically stuck. Not only that but due to a reduced service you can end up needing to spend a whole day to go to an appointment and it is not right for ill people to be waiting around - especially in this weather."

Mrs Ryland said she had been forced to change her life completely.

Pip and Jane Ryland say the new service is a nightmare for residents who live near St Peter's Way in Brooke. Picture: Pip RylandPip and Jane Ryland say the new service is a nightmare for residents who live near St Peter's Way in Brooke. Picture: Pip Ryland

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She added: "I'm unfit now. I'm not going out and meeting people as it is impossible to get anywhere. It has ruined everything. Everyone is suffering.

"We have all just been isolated and it is impacting the wellbeing of the community."

Brooke Parish Council said it had received 40 complaints about changes to the service.

A spokesperson added: "This route has four bus stops and ensures residents with reduced mobility, many dependent on walking sticks and Zimmer frames, don't have far to walk. There is an alternative but this means a brisk 20 minute walk to the other side of the village and across the busy B1332 Norwich Road and this is simply impossible for these residents.

"They have been severely impacted by the drastically reduced service."

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said: "We constantly monitor all our services to ensure they are meeting the demands of people travelling throughout the working week and at weekends. Unfortunately due to the low number of people choosing to use the 41 route through this area, it does not require an increase to the present frequency that is in place. If demand changes and increases, we will certainly review the situation again."


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