'It isn't fair': Sheltered community 'isolated' by bus route cancellation

Residents of the Fiddle Wood Estate in Norwich, along with county councillor Steve Morphew and city

Residents of the Meadowsweet sheltered housing in Norwich, along with county councillor Steve Morphew and city councillor Paul Kendrick for Catton Grove Ward, who have been affected by a First cus route change. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Vulnerable people are begging for a bus service to be brought back after its cancellation has left them feeling isolated.

In July 2020, First Buses temporarily diverted the 21 and 22 services to avoid the Fiddlewood Road estate in Catton Grove.

The company said this was due to declining passenger numbers but was also in part a response to the pandemic. 

It was hoped the measure would be a temporary however it has since been announced the change was permanent, with First arguing that reinstating the route was "hard to justify".

However, Labour county councillor Steve Morphew has since launched a campaign calling on the bus company to reintroduce the estate with members of the nearby Meadowsweet sheltered housing community adding their voices to the calls.

County councillor Steve Morphew and city councillor Paul Kendrick, both for Catton Grove Ward, at th

County councillor Steve Morphew and city councillor Paul Kendrick, both for Catton Grove Ward, at the new bus stop in St Faiths Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The city council-run retirement development has more than 30 vulnerable residents who along with their concerned family members have signed a petition urging First to reconsider.

Residents say the cancellation has left them isolated and unable to get around.

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The change means the people who live in the development need to walk up a steep hill to get to the nearest bus stop in the busy St Faith's Road, which they have to then have cross to catch a bus.

Fred Brigham, who is 87 and has emphysema, said: "I can't get up that hill, it takes the wind out of me, then you take your life into your hands when you try to cross that road.

"I used to often get the bus into the city but now I have to either drive or not go at all."

Fellow resident Cynthia Burgess, 85, added: "It's left me isolated and having to rely on my daughter to go shopping for me, which isn't fair."

County councillor Steve Morphew and city councillor Paul Kendrick, both for Catton Grove Ward, at th

County councillor Steve Morphew and city councillor Paul Kendrick, both for Catton Grove Ward, at the new bus stop in St Faiths Road in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

But David Jordan, First's marketing manager, said: "After several months of our receiving positive anecdotal feedback from drivers about passengers views of the service operating a more direct and faster route to and from the city centre as well as the historical evidence of passenger numbers and the increasing numbers of delays to buses in the estate, we took the decision last that St Faiths Road should become the new established."

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