'We are totally isolated and have no choice but to move'
ELDERLY people say they feel isolated after "lifeline" bus services from New Waltham and Cleethorpes were cut – leaving them unable to make early medical appointments and some with "no choice but to move closer to town".
Stagecoach's number 12 bus service has been reduced and now sets off at 11am from New Waltham and 11.08am from Belvoir Road, travelling into Cleethorpes and Grimsby town centres, instead of 9am and 9.08am, respectively. Service users – many of whom are elderly – have complained that they now have no way to get to appointments at doctors surgeries or the hospital.
Pat Patterson, 76, of Cattistock Road, said: "If we have appointments before 11am there is no way we can get to them unless we pay for taxis, but most of us are on pensions and have regular appointments so can't afford it."
Chairman of the Belvoir Park Residents' Association Bob Ayling said: "Many of the people in this area are pensioners and have no other means of transport so rely heavily on the bus. There are buses going from Taylor's Avenue but a lot of people have mobility problems and cannot walk very far."
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The loss of the service sparked outrage among residents and more than 50 of them met at the Annie Chapple Community Centre to discuss the changes with Stagecoach East Midlands managing director Gary Nolan.
Mr Nolan said: "The service is not commercially viable on its own but we used to have a commission from the council to take children to school on the same route which is how we ran the earlier service.
"When they put the service out to tender, they used a process we do not support and we chose not to bid so they may have saved a few pounds, but they have done so at the expense of these people."
The explanation will be of little comfort to Doreen Tyson, 68, of New Waltham, who is a full time carer for her husband – who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and lung cancer – and described the change as "losing a lifeline".
"I'm a full time carer to my husband and we have lived in the village for eleven years but now have no choice but to move closer to town as now we are totally isolated," said Doreen.
Buses late on in the afternoon have also been cut so that the last service returning to New Waltham leaves Grimsby at 2.20pm and Cleethorpes at 2.35pm.
Linda Meadows, 55, suffers with a spinal disorder and helps her 80-year-old father who lives opposite her home in Fitzwilliam Mews. She said: "People use this bus to go to hospital appointments, see relatives, pay bills and when you move quite slowly, three hours a day is not a lot of time to do all the things you need to."
North East Lincolnshire Council declined to comment.