Cash shortfall could see end of road for bus

Drivers Tim Hicking and Graham Cripps with Barbara Astin, Jean Whitehead and Florence Platts who rely on the bus and Trinity transport manager Shirley Pateson
Drivers Tim Hicking and Graham Cripps with Barbara Astin, Jean Whitehead and Florence Platts who rely on the bus and Trinity transport manager Shirley Pateson
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IT IS the end of the road for a community bus that provides a lifeline to the old folk of Whitby unless £5000 can be found to cover the shortfall in running costs.

If the Trinity Centre on Flowergate cannot raise the cash to cover rising fuel and maintenance costs the bus will be lost at the end of March - isolating many elderly people who visit the day centre.

It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday running activities like arts and crafts, bingo, quizzes and dominoes as well as providing a two course hot meal and refreshments.

There are functions throughout the year including Easter and Christmas lunches. A Christmas buffet is being held on Friday after being postponed due to the weather.

The bus is used to pick the centre users up from their homes in Whitby and the outlying villages such as Staithes, Runswick Bay, Sleights, Glaisdale, Robin Hood’s Bay and Ruswarp and it drops them off again at the end of the day.

Most of them are in their late 80s and 90s and would struggle to get to the Trinity Centre without the bus which has been providing the service for at least 15 years.

The trustees of the Trinity Centre say it is a case of “now or never” and if the bus was to go so would the jobs of the two drivers - Graham Cripps and Tim Hicks.

Graham said: “I have been doing this for 18 months and absolutely love it, it is so rewarding. The drivers would be out of jobs but that is the least of the concerns.

“The whole idea of the centre is that it is for people who otherwise would not be able to get out so much.

“They love travelling on the bus. There is banter and companionship, they are chatting away and it is part of their day out.

“One lady is virtually blind, if they don’t have family living nearby they would really struggle to get out of the house. Coming to Trinity is the only time in the whole week they get out.”

The Trinity Centre doesn’t receive any financial help for the bus and can’t keep using funds earmarked for the centre if that too is to survive.

Transport manager Shirley Paterson said without the bus there were few options as taxis are costly and the Good Neighbours scheme is already busy.

She added: “They each like their own seat on the bus because they have been coming for so long. Their day starts when they get on the bus.

“If they didn’t come here a lot would go down hill, they would be so isolated in their own homes and we just don’t want to sit back and watch that happen.”

Kathleen Brown (86) from Ingham Close, Sleights visits Trinity twice a week.

She said: “We are devastated. We enjoy the activities, they are all so friendly and we would willingly pay a bit more.”

The Trinity Centre trustees are hoping a local business can sponsor the bus to keep it going. Contact 601548.