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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 12:37 GMT
Pensioner in bus service protest
First minibus and full-sized bus
First said the service was not commercially viable
A Plymouth pensioner is refusing to pay her council tax after a bus service she describes as "vital" was cancelled.

The number 17 First Bus service between Glenholt, Derriford and the city centre was scrapped on 3 January.

Fordie Preston, 80, who lives at Glenholt said the bus was a "lifeline" and she was prepared to go to court if necessary to make her point.

First said it took the decision because the route was no longer "commercially viable".

At my time of life it seems ridiculous to have to fight for a bus
Fordie Preston

First spokesperson Claire Sneddon said: "The service is simply not commercially viable and is not carrying enough passengers to cover the costs of running the service."

The service connects Glenholt to Derriford Hospital and the city centre, and some passengers will now have to walk at least half a mile (0.8km) to the nearest bus stop.

Councillor Sue Dann, Plymouth City Council cabinet member for transport, said: "First made a commercial decision to discontinue the Number 17 service and we appreciate that this causes problems for people who rely on that service as their connection with the city centre."

She said she understood Mrs Preston was "making a statement about her frustration" by not paying her council tax.

"But I would ask her instead to make representations in writing to me at the council as a more constructive way forward," she added.

Ms Dann said the council was currently reviewing all bus routes to see whether there were any viable alternatives which it could provide in next year's budget.

Reviewing routes

Mrs Preston has cancelled her council tax direct debit and says she will be writing to the council to explain her actions.

"The service is a vital lifeline for pensioners who don't use commuter services and I feel the council should be doing something about it.

"This is the most effective way I can think of of making a stand," she said.

"I won't pay my council tax until another bus is sorted and if they say I've got to go court, I'll have a job to get there.

"At my time of life it seems ridiculous to have to fight for a bus."


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