Sunderland pensioners win fight to keep bus service

Fighting to keep the No35 bus running are Helen Morrison, Bernadette Barr, Lillian Durward, Judy Harrison, Sheila Tinkler, Les Chambers and Tom Seamarks.
Fighting to keep the No35 bus running are Helen Morrison, Bernadette Barr, Lillian Durward, Judy Harrison, Sheila Tinkler, Les Chambers and Tom Seamarks.
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PENSIONERS have won their fight to keep a transport lifeline.

Many residents of Oakfield Court, in East Herrington, feared they would be isolated and unable to get to hospital appointments, when proposals were mooted to alter a bus service they depend on.

The new route of the No. 35 service, which runs from South Shields through to South Hetton, would have taken away the Silksworth Road section.

That would have meant a walk to Durham Road, which would have been problematic for the elderly and immobile who live in the sheltered housing.

Campaigners, including Sheila Tinkler, 72, collected more than 300 signatures petitioning against the changes, which she handed to St Chad’s ward councillor Robert Oliver.

Now their efforts have been rewarded.

Go North East said that after a customer consultation, where it received 2,500 responses, feedback has been taken on board and that the 35 will continue to operate with some alterations.

Martin Harris, head of Go North East, said: “The 35 service will continue to operate between South Shields and Sunderland, and every 10 minutes.

“Buses will operate alternatively as service 35 and 35A, with a bus every 20 minutes on each route.

“Between Sunderland and East Herrington Board Inn, service 35 will operate via Sunderland Royal Hospital, Barnes Park and Durham Road, with service 35A operating via Burn Park Road, Barnes Park and Silksworth.

“From Houghton, service 35 will operate to Low Moorsley via Hetton Downs and Hetton, with service 35A operating to Rainton Bridge nPower.”

He added: “The 35 provides a faster service from the Coalfields into Sunderland City Centre, whilst maintaining connections to the hospital, and provides an increased frequency of every 20 minutes for Hetton Downs and Low Moorsley, replacing services X36 and X37.

“Service 35A combines with service 20A to provide a 10 minute frequency from Houghton to nPower.

“Evening and Sunday buses will continue to serve both Sunderland Royal Hospital and Silksworth, with one per hour operating to Low Moorsley and one per hour operating to South Hetton.”

Tom Seamarks is one of the Oakfield Court residents who feared his independence would be snatched from him if the bus route was changed.

The 93-year-old, who was a priosner of the Japanese during the Second World War, said: “I completely rely on it. I use it nearly every day.”

He added: “I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us. We’re really grateful.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho