‘WE are the forgotten people of Portsmouth.’ That was the message from those living in Tipner and Stamshaw who fear they will be cut-off when changes to a main bus route come in on September 2.
Residents voiced their fury at a hastily arranged meeting at Stamshaw and Tipner Community Centre this week where they savaged plans from bus operator First Group.
A packed hearing of up to 75 people saw them one by one - whether elderly, young, professional or parents – stand up and let rip at the planned changes to the popular number 17 bus.
The service currently provides a lifeline to many with it offering a route to St Mary’s and QA hospitals, as well as vital amenities such as shops, doctors, dentists, banks, post office, schools and places of work. Pompey fans trying to get to Fratton Park also face having their noses put out of joint.
The longstanding route, which used to go every 10 minutes but now picks up every half an hour, travels from Range Green down Tipner Road, past the Mountbatten Centre before swinging by Gladys Avenue and on to North End and Chichester Road.
Next month it will merely travel along Copnor Road and Burrfields Road before arriving outside Marks & Spencer at the Ocean Retail Park.
Organiser of the campaign group Julie Kemp said: ‘There’s going to be a lot of people cut-off by the route change. There are people who need to go to St Mary’s Hospital to collect their prescriptions but won’t be able to get there now unless they fork out £12 for a return taxi. There will be no other bus that comes anywhere near here.
Bill Colwell, of Tipner, said: ‘We will be totally isolated. How will we get to the doctors, dentist and shops now?’
Mitzi Wheatcroft said: ‘Why give us a bus pass if you don’t want us to use the bus? Many of us don’t drive. It will take our independence away. We’ll be stuck in Tipner.’
A spokesperson for First Solent said: ‘We reluctantly decided to make the changes to the route to improve the commercial viability of the service, which in its current form is not attracting enough customers to cover its running costs.’