PARTIALLY sighted pensioner Paul Kumra says the rerouting of a bus service in Pinehurst has completely cut him and other elderly residents off from their community.

Retired quality controller Paul, 73, has lived on Beech Avenue for 45 years and has been a regular user of the Number 11 Thamesdown Transport bus, often using it twice a day to access the shops in Moredon Road.

But on January 6, revised routes and timetables were introduced in response to passenger usage, which included the Number 11 service being rerouted from the top of Pinehurst Road through Whitworth Road.

This has left the residents of Beech Avenue with no bus service from Monday to Saturday.

Paul said the changes have had a detrimental effect on the elderly residents in his street, who can no longer visit the shops, post office and other services.

He said: “For me, it was the only way to stay in touch with the community and that has now totally gone. Now I don’t even get out of bed until 10am because what for? There is no reason to get up anymore.

“Luckily I am still able to walk but I’m partially sighted and with all the shopping it is a huge struggle. I’d invite the managing director of Thamesdown to come and see how difficult he has made the lives of the many pensioners on that road.

“You don’t need a miracle to work it out, and if they had consulted with the people that use the bus it might have helped. They think they know all the answers but they don’t see the people who are suffering.

“There are a lot of retired, elderly people along Beech Avenue. There is one man who is blind that used to use the bus, but since they made the changes I haven’t seen him go out at all.

“Since January 6, when they implemented the changes, I have only left the house three times. What kind of life is that? They have totally cut off this area.

“I’d like to know how much money is being saved by rerouting this service – I could understand if they had just made it less frequent because it was every 15 minutes. We wouldn’t mind if it was every half hour or every hour, but to completely change the route is ridiculous.

“I am a pensioner who has paid my taxes all my life and this is the present we get from Thamesdown in the new year.”

Paul is so determined to see the bus rerouted back through Beech Avenue that he has started a petition, which he intends to give to Thamesdown Transport.

He said: “A lot of the residents have just given up, they think nothing is going to change now, but nothing will happen unless you say something so I have started a petition in the hope they will reconsider the changes.

“We rely on the service for our everyday needs and for the past 45 years, I am happy to say that the Number 11 bus service has been fulfilling that vital role in our life – just to get out and away from the mundane daily life and feel alive. The changes have resulted in unbearable stress and depression.”

Thamesdown Transport managing director Paul Jenkins said: “The recent changes made to our services were as a result of thorough analysis of how our passengers used the services, with the aim of making them more efficient and therefore commercially viable.

“Service 11 was also affected by the loss of around £500,000 a year in financial support from the NHS for services to the Great Western Hospital. Where roads are no longer served, we have tried to ensure there are alternative routes available nearby.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”