A VITAL bus service is set to be restored on Canvey for a six-month trial.

Fury erupted in May after First Bus introduced major changes to its services on Canvey, which saw the number 16, 26 and 21C services scrapped on the island and replaced with a new 21 route.

The controversial changes meant elderly residents were no longer able to travel from the seafront to the town centre, or to the Central Canvey Primary Care Centre, without walking long distances to catch a connecting bus.

The new 21 route also bypassed large sections of Long Road and Canvey Road, running instead through Thorney Bay Road and the new Roscommon Way extension past Morrisons.

Now, Essex County Council has agreed to spend £17,000 to subsidise the 21C service and bring it back for six months after being lobbied by local councillors.

Dave Blackwell, county councillor for Canvey East, said: “Elderly residents living near the seafront were having to walk nearly a mile to the High Street to catch a bus because it didn’t run through their area anymore.

“One woman I spoke to said it took her an hour and a half to walk it.

“For some people that’s just too far and its all well and good in the summer, but when it’s winter and it’s horrible and cold out, that’s just not acceptable.”

The 21C route, which will go live on September 2, will run from Eastern Esplanade, through Furtherwick Road, Long Road, Canvey Road, Northwick Road, Canvey Roadand Ferry Road to Benfleet railway station.

Residents are being urged to make sure they use the service so it is retained permanently.

Ray Howard, county councillor for Canvey West, said: “Elderly people depend on this service to get to the town “So I am delighted we have been successful in getting it reinstated.

“I just hope people will use it, because as the saying goes, if you don’t use it, youwill lose it.”

A spokeswoman from First Bus said: “After our decision to withdraw service 21C as this was no longer commercially viable, we are pleased Essex County Council has decided to subsidise this to serve passengers in Canvey.

“As always we will work closely with Essex County Council.

“However, any future decisions about this service will now be its responsibility.”