U-turn sees return of axed bus route in Basford and Wolstanton
CAMPAIGNERS have won their fight for a bus service to be returned to their neighbourhood.
The number 17 service will be back in Basford and Wolstanton after bus company First performed a U-turn over its decision to axe the route.
Hundreds of residents signed a petition against the decision, which left passengers without public transport to the city centre.
Now the service is expected to be running again in about three weeks time.
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First Bus general manager, Peter Walch, said: "We are not arrogant and we will change our minds over a decision.
"There has been a lot of public requests to return the route. I have always said if people are unhappy then I will listen to what they have to say.
"We feel it is the sensible thing to reinstate it as the public want it back."
First originally said the change was for 'commercial reasons', in order to generate more business from the busy Wolstanton Retail Park.
Removing the service would have left users with a walk into May Bank or the outskirts of Basford to catch an alternative bus.
In response, Wardle Transport ran a similar route to pick up some of the slack.
Mr Walch said although the service will be returned, the firm would continue to focus on passengers travelling to the retail park.
He added: "We will have to look at our network in the area and we will review that. We are mindful that people do want to get there.
"The local authorities have supported our move to bring back the service, so it should now take about three weeks to get it running again."
The campaign to rescue the service saw about 250 people sign a petition objecting to First's plans.
Councillor Simon Tagg, who represents May Bank, Basford and The Brampton on Newcastle Borough Council, launched the petition after receiving complaints.
He said: "We put the petition to them about three weeks ago.
"It is good that First have listened and a lot of people will be pleased that it's coming back. It's really good news.
"There were no other bus routes that went down Basford Park Road. People in the area were cut off."
Selwyn Brown, chairman of North Staffordshire transport group Aces, said: "I have received complaints from a number of people living in the area who were unhappy that the service had been taken away.
"They couldn't understand it as it was always well used. There were always people on the bus.
"There have been some cases where people living in that area and working in Hanley have had to walk to other bus stops and even get taxis. It was a service they relied on.
"If it does come back in its original form, then it is good news for the people of Basford and I am very pleased for them."
Maureen Foy, of May Bank, who backed the campaign to save the service, said: "When I worked in Hanley I would regularly use it to get to the city centre.
"I felt for the people who do rely on it to get to and from work. The bus was always busy and well used. It's good news that it is coming back."