‘Left out on a limb’

BUS STOP: John Williams and pensiors at Ryehill Gardens are unhappy with bus service.
BUS STOP: John Williams and pensiors at Ryehill Gardens are unhappy with bus service.

PENSIONERS have blasted transport chiefs for failing to re-route a bus service on Sundays and bank holidays.

Elderly residents living in the Ryehill Gardens area of Hartlepool want Stagecoach to re-route the number 3 to include Ryehill Gardens and Thornhill Gardens instead of by-passing it via Hart Lane on Sundays and bank holidays, as some find it hard to walk to Hart Lane.

The service currently runs from Monday to Saturday via the two streets.

But older people living in the area say they are left out on a limb at other times, when they want to be able to get out and about. John Williams, a 79-year-old dad-of-six, says he has contacted both Stagecoach and Hartlepool Borough Council, which subsidises the service, but he claims he has been told there is no money in the pot to make what he describes as a “two-minute detour”.

The retired ICI and Hartlepool steelworks employee, who lives in Ryehill Gardens, said: “I have been on the phone to the head man at Stagecoach, but he said they would need extra money for the extra mileage.

“I said ‘surely it can’t cost that much for an extra two minutes’.

“We only want it extended to run on a Sunday and bank holidays.

“There are a lot of elderly people living in that area and this means we can’t get out unless we can manage to walk down Hart Lane, but one or two can’t walk that far.”

Stagecoach refused to be drawn on the possibility of re-routing the service. Robin Knight, commercial director for Stagecoach North-East said: “We have received an inquiry from Mr Williams regarding the service 3 and have corresponded with him directly.

“We remain committed to working with Hartlepool Borough Council and local authorities in maintaining a sustainable bus network for the future.”

A council spokesman said: “We appreciate Mr Williams’ view but as we have explained to him, with council budgets under review at the current time, we are unfortunately unable to commit to the cost of extending this supported bus service.”

The Mail reported last month that the council and Stagecoach were reviewing council-subsidised night-time bus services as the local authority tries to find £12m in savings over the next financial year.

Council papers outlining proposed cuts show £287,000 could be saved by cutting subsidies to bus operators. But a final decision will not be made until next month when the council’s budget is agreed.