PENSIONERS in Jericho will soon benefit from a new bus to take them on shopping trips.

Walton Street was closed by the county council last year for resurfacing and council leaders then decided to keep it closed on a trial basis and are consulting the public on the proposal.

The route is now closed off at the junction with Worcester Street and Beaumont Street.

While a group called Jericho Connections has called for the street to be reopened, so baseline data can be collected before a formal consultation, a rival group, Don’t Choke Jericho, says this is not necessary and wants the street to stay shut.

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In December former printer David Barker, 78, who lives in Great Clarendon Street, said he wanted Walton Street reopened because it would boost the chance of bus services running near his home.

Oxford Mail:

Now it has emerged that Oxford Baptist Chapel is to step in to offer a bus ride to the shops for pensioners.

Community organiser John Mair, who liaised with the church to help organise the bus service, said: “I don’t think there be another commercial bus service in Jericho but there is some very good news.

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“Oxford Baptist Chapel in Albert Street has kindly offered their minibus for a once weekly Jericho shopping bus service.

From March 2, it will run at 11am each and every Monday from the community centre to the city centre on week one, and on week two to Sainsbury’s in Kidlington.

“It is free and open to all comers on a first come, first served basis.”

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Bus Company withdrew its app-based PickMeUp bus service from Jericho earlier this month due to the closure of Walton Street.

Company managers said earlier the service was being suspended as the prolonged Walton Street road closure made continuing impractical.

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Hugh Jaeger, a spokesman for the Oxford branch of Bus Users’ UK, called last month for the street to reopen for buses.

He said the former 17 service was run by Stagecoach until 2017 and then it was run by Thames Travel.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Jaeger suggested the county council should create a bus gate at the Worcester Street junction.

Jericho and Osney city councillor Susanna Pressel said: "I set up a bus service two years ago for people in Jericho and Walton Manor who can’t walk far. It’s run by Aspire every Tuesday.

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"It’s great that this new service will operate on Mondays and be available to more people.

"I know that quite a few older people would like an easy way to get to a large supermarket. I hope this new service will be very well used and turn into a weekly social event!”

No one from Oxford Baptist Chapel was available for comment.