Minibus for the elderly proposed in Uppingham

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Uppingham residents may soon be able to travel into the town centre by getting on a minibus.

The town council hopes to run a trial service that will help people, especially the elderly, who have no access to cars.

Mayor Dave Ainslie said: “We are working on a solution and hope to trial a minibus-size vehicle with access for the elderly.”

If the trial is successful and sufficient numbers use the service, the council will consider making it permanent.

Ivy Pitchard, 83, was delighted because she has to rely on neighbours and friends to get into the town centre to visit the doctors surgery in Ayston Road.

She said: “There is no bus service from around town for anyone who wants to go into the town centre. And if we want to go to Peterborough, for example, we need to go to Oakham. It is not fair to the people who live in Uppingham.”

Mrs Pitchard, who moved to New Town Road while she was running a nursery and garden centre and could walk into town, said there are many people in their 70s or 80s in the area who struggle to get to the doctors and rely on lifts.

“It’s very difficult not only for me but for hundreds of elderly residents,” she said.

Coun Ainslie said the town council was aware of the problem and had been in negotiations for three months with community partnership Uppingham First.

He added: “The other solution we are working on is to get buses that go through Oakham to stop near the surgery in Ayston Road. Two bus stops have already been installed on either side of the road. In the long term we want to ensure that any future developments of Uppingham Gate area includes provisions for buses to turn around.

“At the moment buses cannot do that at Ayston Road, so people have to walk about 50 yards which is not easy if you are elderly or infirm. That is why we are planning to trial the minibus option.”

Uppingham Surgery moved from its London Road site in the town centre to Ayston Road in March.

Mrs Pitchard said that had made it much harder for the elderly as the surgery was now “too far for Uppingham people who did not have cars”.

A spokesman for the surgery said it was working closely with Rutland County Council to identify ways for patients to get to the surgery.

She said: “We moved into new premises to provide patients with a surgery which is fit for 21st century healthcare.

“The new building has modern surgery facilities, with additional GP consulting and treatment rooms, and is accessible to those with disabilities. There are also 25 visitor parking spaces available.

“Our patients’ views are very important to us and some have told us that getting to the new surgery by public transport isn’t straightforward.”