Asda bus service cuts have '˜taken away a lifeline' for many elderly shoppers

ELDERLY residents are in shock after a bus service they relied and depended on was axed.

Thursday, 15th June 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th June 2017, 9:41 am
Asda in Bedhampton

Many used the free service run by Asda, in which a bus collected shoppers from Hayling Island and took them to the Bedhampton store and back to buy goods.

But the group, many of whom are unable to manage with shopping on their own, were given two weeks’ notice that the service would be discontinued.

Asda has argued it wasn’t used enough but Audrey White, 81 and from Fathoms Reach disagreed, and said vulnerable people had had a lifeline taken away.

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She said: ‘The news was a complete shock.

‘The service has been running for years and a group of us used it every Wednesday – there were always between 15 and 25 people on it.

‘The reason it’s so valuable is because of the help we receive in getting on and off the bus.

‘The driver would load our trolleys on to the bus when they were full of shopping, something which many of us just can’t manage on our own.

‘That help and security isn’t available on normal buses and this decision has taken away the independence of some.’

The routes cancelled served a number of areas in and around the vicinity of the store. Asda paid for the service itself and used bus company Xelabus to run the journeys.

The group of elderly bus users handwrote a petition and obtained signatures before sending it to the supermarket.

But still they were told nothing could be done.

A spokesperson for Asda said: ‘After monitoring showed consistently low use of this bus, it was cancelled on May 5.’

Audrey’s daughter Sally White is angry about the decision. She said: ‘What’s upset many is the time these elderly people were given to make other arrangements – barely any, plus the fact Asda didn’t break the news themselves.’

Havant Borough councillor for Hayling West, Michael Wilson, said he was sorry to learn the service ended and added: ‘As a private business, it’s up to Asda to decide whether it felt the service was cost-effective and valuable.’

Joanne Thomas, also a councillor for Hayling West, added: ‘I hope Asda reconsider, and realise how valued its service was for the community.’