Thundersley residents say cut bus service will leave them ‘isolated’

Residents of an Essex village are demanding to roll back changes to bus services which they say could ‘isolate’ and ‘work to deter’ the area. Bus Essex’s first service changes on April 17 saw the removal of Route 21, which served Thundersley.

Changes to Route 21 are to serve SEEVIC and replace another bus service to provide links to Leigh-on-Sea station and Rectory Grove. Route 21B, another First Bus Essex bus service in the village, has also been scrapped and replaced with runs at similar times to Route 21.

Tom Gibson, 24, says residents were angry and concerned when the changes were made due to access issues at Southend Hospital. He said: “In terms of isolation, there is quite a large population of over 60s in the village, many of them dependent on public transport not only to get to appointments at the hospital, but to go to social engagements.

Read more: Petition launched to save M&S store in Colchester after plans to open new store 5 miles away

“We know that isolation can become a problem in this age group. Hospital is probably the most important.

“It could lead to people not having their medical issues addressed because they’re too intimidated, too stressed, it’s too aggressive, to take two buses and spend a total of three and a half hours traveling there and back to each other. So sort out the effects will be isolation which would lead to the closure of businesses and ultimately harm the health of the people of Thundersley.

Locals who are not driving will now need to use the Arriva’s Route 1 bus from Thundersley to Chalkwell Westcliff Library and then a 16-minute walk to Southend Hospital. Alternatively, travelers will need to take two buses, departing from Rayleigh or Southend to get to the hospital.

Tom started the online petition to restore the No 21 bus after two other residents launched a campaign to reverse service changes. The online and paper petition has garnered over 1,000 signatures combined. Mr Gibson thinks people will worry about the impact the changes will have on access links and amenities.

A petition has been started in Thundersley, Essex to book First Bus Essex service changes

Additionally, he has seen teenagers getting involved in the campaign due to the impact it can have on the facilities they can do in the area as it lacks facilities. He said: “I think that obviously shows that it’s an important issue for people.

“These are the people who are worried about not going to hospital appointments, they are worried that their children cannot go to school. People who own businesses in the village are worried because it reduces their attendance.

“We’ve had people say online that they’re happy there’s an online petition because we set up a booth to get signatures and got feedback from a few people and said we’d like to go there and sign it, but we need the 21 bus to get up there.”

Since the start of the online campaign, the car auctioneer says he has received support from everyone he has spoken to. The next step is to submit signatures to First Bus Essex, Castle Point and Essex County Council.

Mr Gibson said: ‘I always knew there was a strong community in this area of ​​Thundersley, but I have to say it surprised me at how quickly and enthusiastically people followed during the Classes. We now have many people on board who are active in the community and the reactions all around have been ones of solidarity.

“They could reverse that decision tomorrow and everyone will be happy. We just want it back.”

Garry Nicholass, Commercial Director of First Bus Essex, said: “Thunderley has a bus service every 15 minutes which is run by another bus operator and people can connect to Rayleigh, Southend or along London Road from Hadleigh to Southend to alternative routes to the hospital We currently have no plans to reinstate Route 21, however, we will continue to keep the area under review.

To view the petition for Thundersley bus route changes, click here. What do you think of the changes to First Bus Essex services? Join the conversation with other EssexLive readers here.

Melvin Z. Madore