Partying pensioners forced to stop nights out after late bus ban

Elderley residents at Gateway Association's Windsor Court, Poole Road in Fulwood, Preston have been stopped from using the night bus after new rules were brought in.  'Pictured are the residents at Windsor Court.'14th January 2016

Elderley residents at Gateway Association's Windsor Court, Poole Road in Fulwood, Preston have been stopped from using the night bus after new rules were brought in. 'Pictured are the residents at Windsor Court.'14th January 2016

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PENSIONERS are being forced to park their partying ways after housing association bosses halted a bus service after 5pm.

For 10 years a group of grandmas and grandads living in sheltered accomodation at Windsor Court, Fulwood, have booked Community Gateway Association’s community minibus to get to restaurants and nights out.

But now they have been grounded after CGA decided it needed the bus back by 5pm, so staff can check it is clean for the next user.

“We’re not imbeciles, what do they think’s going to happen?” said June Bamber, 81.

“Around here we like to go out on a Friday night for a meal. Just because we’re pensioners doesn’t mean that we don’t like to get dressed up and go out from time to time.

“For years we’ve been able to book the bus, pay for the fuel and treat the volunteer driver to a meal with us.

“I rang up to book last week and was told it was a new bus and could only be used between 8am and 5pm.

“Usually we might go out at 6pm and the latest we’re home is 9.30pm. It’s not like we’re coming back at midnight, drunk. We don’t drink or eat on the bus.

“Everyone’s really upset. The bus is just sat there outside Gateway House doing nothing; it’s a waste.”

Any tenant of the housing association can book the bus for outings but there is no obligation for the service to run.

A Community Gateway spokesman said: “CGA covers the cost of leasing, taxing, repairing, insuring and running the bus, including paying for the volunteer drivers to be trained.

“The only charge to minibus users is the cost of fuel. When we leased a new bus in November following feedback from service users, we reviewed times the bus is used.

“Users were informed that bookings would be during working hours to allow CGA staff to check the bus in and out and ensure it is clean for the next user.

“The minibus remains a popular service and we’re happy for any CGA members who wish to use the service to contact us on 0800 953 0213.

“Preston Community Transport also provide a minibus service which is available for community use.”

Mrs Bamber said: “I don’t feel like that’s a real answer, we’re just being fobbed off.

“When I asked a manager why this had happened I was told it’s because we left it in a mess after our last meal, with toffee wrappers and envelopes on the floor.

“But it’s just not true. Who wants sweets after a big meal?

“We wouldn’t abuse it, we’re not hooligans. Why can’t we come up with a compromise? We don’t want to be clock-watching everywhere we go.”