4:00pm Tuesday 16th April 2013
By Marion Sauvebois
A STROKE survivor from Wotton-under-Edge has said he will be left isolated and unable to attend his weekly support group meetings in Thornbury when the only bus into town is axed next month.
Roger Flack, 73, uses the 311 service between three and four times each week to attend the Thornbury and District Stroke Group’s swimming class at the leisure centre on Monday mornings and for regular sessions at the Alveston Jubilee Hall on Thursdays.
He also travels to Almondsbury every Wednesday to look after two of his four grandchildren.
Using public transport has allowed him to live independently despite his handicap and not have to rely on his wife Carol for lifts.
But the 311, which currently runs eight times a day and is the only link between Thornbury, Wotton and Dursley, was recently deemed commercially unviable by First Bus.
The father-of-three told the Gazette of his shock when he discovered his only means of autonomy would be scrapped on May 26.
"I was very upset," said Mr Flack who suffers from aphasia, a speech disorder, as a result of his stroke. "Stopping it altogether is not right."
Although able to drive, he finds the experience stressful and prefers to get on a bus whenever he can.
The former Bristol police officer and Almondsbury resident suffered a stroke 15 years ago.
It took six months for him to learn to speak, eat and drink again after the attack.
He moved to Wotton with his wife 11 years ago and has been using the 311 bus ever since to meet his fellow stroke group members in Thornbury and Alveston.
Carol, a part-time sales woman, said: "There are certain services that are just essential and money just shouldn’t come into it.
"He wants to be independent. He doesn’t want to be driven around. And I work part-time so I can’t drive him all the time."
The 66-year-old added: "We are all growing older; we would all be marooned here. Couldn’t they do a shuttle service to pick people up maybe three times a day?"
Gloucestershire County Council has pledged to keep the service running until August.
South Gloucestershire Council last week told the Gazette it would investigate the price of replacing the route and make a decision based on the quotes it had received.
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