Hellesdon bus troubles prompt survey

A group of Hellesdon bus users who had their full service cut earlier this year have carried out their own survey to back up calls for it to be restored.

People living in the Hellesdon Mill area were initially pacified when their demands to have a replacement for the First Bus run number 29- which runs between Norwich and Taverham and whose route was altered in April- were met with a Norfolk County Council subsidised 28A service.

However, citing difficulties because of what they say is a reduced service, the Save the 29 Bus Group has called for the old bus to return, and distributed hundreds of questionnaires to back up their claim.

Mike Norman is a part of the group, which will meet today to look at its findings. Mr Norman, of Rotary Court, explained that unlike its more regular predecessor, the 28A only went to Norwich, and three times a day, before pointing out that those getting the last bus would not be able to get one home.

He said that questionnaires had been given to the owners of hundred of homes around the affected Hellesdon Hall Road area asking if they used the old and new services, and what they thought of them.

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'Take for example the people in Rotary Court,' he said, 'it's sheltered housing and we're all retired or elderly people dependent on public transport to get places, whether it's shopping or going to the doctors. When we got the 28A it was an unsatisfying response and we feel let down.'

Mr Norman, who has also collected bus tickets from Rotary Court to prove service use, said that they hoped the finding could be used in a future meeting with Norfolk County Council to support their claims.

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The survey took four weeks to complete and also involved Marcus Hemsley, the Green Party county councillor for the Wensum Ward. He said around 300 homes had been contacted and added: 'we hope to collate the data soon, and put forward to strong case to Norfolk County Council as to why a more frequent bus service needs to be reinstated'.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said they worked closely with First to come up with the 28A service, subsidising the route to the cost of �13,000.

'It is right to say that a shortfall in funding of the concessionary bus fares scheme is putting a strain on budgets and this is a key issue for Norfolk,' he added.

Transport troubles? Contact John Owens on 01603 772439.

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