Hellesdon pensioners force First Buses to compromise over planned cuts to services

Pensioners claimed a victory for people power after First Buses agreed to a possible compromise over plans to cut a popular route.

A campaign was set up after First revealed plans to alter the number 29 bus route between Norwich and Taverham from April 10, missing out Mill Corner and leaving people who live in the Hellesdon Mill area without public transport.

People living in the area, backed by Green Party councillors, held a meeting last night to highlight their concerns and more than 100 people packed into the social room at Rotary Court.

A petition calling for the route to be kept and signed by more than 100 people was also handed in to First and Norfolk County Council representatives at the meeting.

First's Ian Rankine, who is network planner for Norfolk and Suffolk, and Chris Limbach, the county council's assistant network manager, both agreed to get together to talk about a compromise.

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Mr Rankine said: 'There is scope for a potential compromise depending on how it will be funded.'

Mike Norman, from Rotary Court sheltered housing complex, who attended the meeting, welcomed the move towards a compromise, but added: 'I still think it's disgusting that it's taken until the Tuesday before the Sunday when the changes come in, to get this far. Whatever they agree, it will take at least 56 days to get approval to change the route, so what do we do in the meantime? The county council should have insisted that customers were consulted about this before it was introduced.'

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Lucy Galvin, who is standing as the Green Party candidate in the forthcoming local elections, said the number of people at the meeting revealed the depth of feeling.

She said: 'People in the area are very upset that their bus service is being taken away. A lot of older people cannot get into the city other than by bus. This is a lifeline for the people in a forgotten area of Norwich.'

At the moment, there is an hourly bus service which stops at Mill Corner from 8.06am with the last bus leaving Norwich city centre at 5.47pm. It does not run in the evenings or on Sundays.

Are you campaigning for a better bus service? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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