Campaigner slams "useless" bus service to Aldi in Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 08:23 27 March 2019
A bus campaigner has accused Essex County Council of "distorting competition" between two retailers in Saffron Walden by providing a "useless" bus service to one of the stores.
New bus stops and road markings have been installed outside Aldi in Thaxted Road but David Corke, a bus campaigner, said residents will not be able to use the bus to shop at the store.
“There are currently three buses in each direction that pass Aldi on their journey from Saffron Walden to Thaxted - only two on Saturdays,” he said. “They start in the High Street and go direct to the Thaxted Road without serving any other part of town. If you arrive on one bus you will wait almost two hours before you can go home again.”
He said this contrasts with Tesco in Radwinter Road which is served by 27 return journeys on weekdays and 18 on Saturdays.
“Essex County Council spends a total of £2,240 each day subsidising these routes but it tries to make them as useless as possible by timetabling them all to run at once. Nonetheless, it is entirely practical to shop at Tesco by bus – even from remote corners of the town.
“In contrast Essex County Council spends only £340 each day subsidising the route that will serve Aldi and that route will not allow many normal shoppers to shop there by bus.
“Without any extra expenditure, Essex County Council could solve this problem by sending route 6 via Debden, Cromwell and Winstanley Roads and then via the Thaxed Road to Wimbish and Thaxted. This would give Aldi customers an hourly bus in each direction and also give a usable service to Wimbish at the expense of Debden losing some of its buses.”
Mr Corke added that Aldi does not offer home delivery like other retailers in the town, such as Tesco and Waitrose, and therefore adequate bus services to the store were particularly important for residents.
“If I were the manager of the Aldi store I’d sue Essex County Council for using council taxpayers’ money to distort competition between Aldi and Tesco,” Mr Corke said.
A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “We aim to serve and support all businesses in Essex by subsidising vital bus services where possible and all suggestions of ways to improve our financing of essential services are welcome.”