CAMPAIGNERS are pushing to see a bus route from Eastwood to Leigh reinstated, but bus firm bosses have insisted there is not enough demand.

Jean de Tourtoulon, from Leigh, believes the return of the 23a would help relieve congestion and traffic.

The 68-year-old says visitors are forced to either choose between shopping or going for a meal when heading to places like Leigh Broadway, due to two hour parking limits.

The return of the 23a, which was cut almost a decade ago, has also been backed by former councillor Stephen Aylen.

Jean said: “We have two small car parks - but understandably they’re sometimes not in use due to Covid.

“The Belfairs estate has also picked up with a lot of families moving from Ilford, Romford etc.

“And people in Eastwood would like to travel to Leigh like they used to be able to.

“The idea with the 23a is people from Eastwood and Leigh will be able to get about easier, and if we had that reliable bus service you could just hop on the bus and get to where you need to.

“You could go to the Broadway, the station, the old town, and it would relieve congestion too.”

However, a spokesman for Arriva said: “Our view as an operator is that we’ve tried such services in the past, and not enough people used them to make them commercially viable, and not enough has changed to make us think that they would be commercially viable today.”

The calls follow the launch of a consultation into bus services in Southend.

Mr Aylen, said: “By putting the 23a route in you could easily get to London Road and Rayleigh Road. At the moment people don’t use the bus, they use their cars, where they can’t get to the main bus routes.”

The consultation, now open on Your Say Southend, will run until December 31.

Julian Elliott, commercial manager at First Essex, said: “We welcome all feedback relating to bus services past and present and although we have no immediate plans to reintroduce a service linking the areas suggested, we can discuss in more detail with the local authority on demand.”

Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, asset management and inward investment, said: “This consultation is about understanding how local people feel that bus services could be improved in their area. We know that bus services provide essential travel for many people across the borough, and it is important we work with bus companies to understand the needs of our residents.

“The feedback from this consultation will provide the information needed to identify key actions to improve bus services across Southend, so please do get involved.”