PEOPLE power has led to an extra bus service being laid on for Hockley.

Bus operator Arriva had reduced the number of buses running on the number 7 route between the village and Southend from four an hour during the day to just one.

Residents reacted furiously and said the service – via Ashingdon – was important, particularly for access to Southend Hospital.

A packed public meeting, organised by Hockley Residents’ Association, heard residents’ complaints about the service.

Now, the county council has agreed to subsidise the extension of the route for one bus an hour during the off-peak period. It will travel to Hockley Spa rather than stopping at Ashingdon Schools.

The amount of financial support will depend on how much it is used and there will be a review after six months.

Essex County Council chairman Bonnie Hart, who is also county councillor for Hockley and lives in the village, campaigned for the extra service, supported by Rochford North county councillor Tracey Chapman.

Mrs Hart said there was deep concern over the impact the changes had caused.

She added: “In particular, it has affected those who use the service to attend local doctors’ appointments, as well as those visiting Southend Hospital.”

The service will not begin until June 7 because Arriva will have to register the change with the Government for eight weeks before it can begin.

Chairman of Hockley Residents’ Association, Brian Guyett, added: “We are pleased the strength of public opinion has been appreciated by the county council and it is good news this extra bus has been introduced.

“I hope the people of the area will take advantage of the service now it is going to be reintroduced.”

Mrs Chapman added: “There is going to be a review in six months so the message has to be ‘use it or lose it’.”