CAMPAIGNERS in Hawkwell are pushing for an evening bus service to go through their village.

The number 8 bus - which travels from Southend to Rayleigh via Hawkwell - currently stops at 6.30pm.

But residents and councillors say it is very difficult for people across the district without cars to get to and from Clements Hall Leisure Centre in Hawkwell.

They also say that people from the village cannot get to Southend Hospital in the evenings since the later service stopped in 2002.

Campaigners want one of the evening number 7s - which has much the same route but via Hockley and Ashingdon rather than Hawkwell - to run as a number 8 route every hour.

They emphasised that they are not calling on Essex County Council for any extra subsidy for the route.

Alan James, secretary of Hawkwell Residents’ Association, said: “What we are trying to do is get one of the evening number 7s diverted through Hawkwell.

“At present, there is no way for residents to get to Clements Hall in the evening from Rayleigh, Hockley or Rochford.

Southend Hospital is now having more evening appointments, which means that Hawkwell residents have no public transport to get them there and back.”

Mr James said he wanted a six-month trial of switching one of the evening 7 buses to be an 8. Hockley Residents’ Association also support the proposal.

Rochford North county councillor Tracey Chapman said she would support an extra service for Hawkwell and Clements Hall but not if it involved a cut in the number 7 service for people in Ashingdon.

She said: “I would not be happy with any service having an adverse impact on current users.

“But I will see if there is anything I can do to persuade Arriva and the county council that a new service could be viable.”

Since 2002, the number 8 hs stopped running beyond 6.30pm, while the number 7 runs two buses per hour in the evenings.

Arriva’s Marketing Manager, Richard Lewis, said “The evening service between Rayleigh, Hockley and Southend is partly funded by Essex County Council and partly operated on a commercial basis at Arriva’s financial risk.

“The suggestions put forward for revisions to the service are currently being considered by Essex County Council in conjunction with Arriva.”

Recently, the county council decided to subsidise the extension of the number 7 route for one bus an hour during the off-peak period.

Following pressure from Hockley residents, it was decided that the number 7 will travel on to Hockley Spa rather than stopping at Ashingdon Schools.