'Sneaky and selfish' changes to bus route slammed

Norfolk county councillor, Steve Morphew, centre, with Bronnie Dale and her dad, Alan, in Fiddle Woo

Norfolk county councillor, Steve Morphew, centre, with Bronnie Dale and her dad, Alan, in Fiddlewood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A bus company has been dubbed "sneaky and selfish" after temporary changes to a route made because of the pandemic became permanent. 

From July 2020, First Buses changed its 21 and 22 services to bypass the Fiddlewood estate in Norwich - with temporary stops instead placed on St Faith's Road.

But when Steve Morphew, Catton Grove's county councillor, queried when the route would be reinstated First confirmed the change had now been made permanent.

The notice in Fiddle Wood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The notice in Fiddlewood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The bus provider said the changes were made as a Covid measure but against a backdrop of reduced use and buses being obstructed by parking issues and increase use of the road by delivery drivers - and that "positive anecdotal feedback" led to the decision to make it permanent.

But Mr Morphew, who is leader of the Labour group at County Hall, has described the move as "sneaky" - and is lobbying the company to reverse the decision.


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He said: "This is a sneaky and selfish cut that shows First in a very poor light.

Fiddle Wood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fiddlewood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"We understood when the service was dropped during lockdown but as people are going about again restoring the route through the estate is essential.

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 "If the service isn’t restored we will need an expensive crossing on busy St Faiths Road. This cut will have a cost to the quality of life for Fiddlewood residents and the public purse."

Alan Dale, of Bussey Road, said: "‘The alternative is walking up a fairly steep hill and crossing a busy road for bus stops that are isolated with woods behind.

Norfolk county councillor, Steve Morphew, centre, with Bronnie Dale and her dad, Alan, in Fiddle Woo

Norfolk county councillor, Steve Morphew, centre, with Bronnie Dale and her dad, Alan, in Fiddlewood Road where the buses will no longer run. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"It’s about the worst combination as the days grow shorter, especially for people like my wife who works early and late shifts at the N&N.

Alice Hewitt, who lives near the stop, said: "It is far from ideal and you often see people rushing in difficulty."

But David Jordan, First Eastern Counties Buses marketing manager said: "In making this decision we had taken into account the numbers of passengers boarding services in Fiddlewood over the months prior to March 2020, which had shown a general decline.

He added that until recently, no concerns or negative feedback had been raised, but Mr Morphew has now launched a petition against the change.

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