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Residents voice concerns over changes to Newton Aycliffe bus route
A BUS company has been accused of isolating a largely elderly community who say they feel cut off from vital amenities.
Residents living in the Greenfield and Byerley Park areas of Newton Aycliffe voiced their concern to Chris Curtis, Commercial Director at Arriva North-East, at a lively public meeting about changes to the 8 and 8a bus services.
More than 40 people attended the meeting at Aycliffe Evangelical Church in Lady Bower on Wednesday to demand Arriva addresses the lack of buses covering the south-western part of the town.
From Sunday, October 28, the route of the 8 and 8a, which run from Darlington to Spennymoor and Ferryhill, via Newton Aycliffe, will be altered to reduce the journey time, increase frequency and boost passenger numbers.
The changes will see the 8 follow the same route as the 8a between Newton Aycliffe and Rushyford, travelling along Central Avenue to the A167. It will mean Pease Way, Greenfield Way, Williamfield Way and Woodham Village will no longer be served.
The residents argue this will make it harder for old and vulnerable people to access amenities such as Cobblers Hall Surgery, Sainsbury’s and the Pioneering Care Centre, which provides health and wellbeing services.
Phil Clark described the changes as “disgraceful” and disputed Mr Curtis’ claims that the majority of residents will still live within 400 metres of a bus stop.
“Everyone in this room lives more than 400 metres away,” he said “What I want to know is whether someone from Arriva has walked from the Greenfield estate with a walking stick and shopping bags to the nearest bus stop?”
The changes follow a decision in January for the 5 and 5a to bypass Alston Crescent – a move which prompted residents to launch a petition that collected over 250 signatures.
Coun Dorothy Bowman criticised the lack of consultation. “I am a County Councillor and the first I heard of the changes was when a poster went up to say they were happening,” she said.
Mr Curtis admitted the consultation had been lacking but said he would not ignore the resident’s concerns and welcomed their suggestions.
He said Arriva would consider tweaking the 5/5a to serve the communities affected by the 8/8a changes and hinted there was also a possibility of another bus company taking on the route.
“I can’t guarantee we will be able to do something but there is a strong likelihood,” he said.