Disabled residents have been left stranded by the closure of Shoreham’s footbridge.
That’s the view of Lesley Chadwick, who was told the free shuttle bus, laid on to take people from the town centre to the Beach, was not designed for wheelchairs or mobility buggies.
Lesley, of Winterton Way, said access to town for disabled people was provided by Adur Community Transport, but had to be booked in advance, or didn’t run after 5pm or at weekends.
“This means that evening visits to town, or spur-of-the- moment trips to town, are no longer an option,” she said.
“ We tried to use the Compass company’s shuttle bus to carry me and my electric wheelchair to town, successfully. However, for the return journey, we were told electric wheelchairs were not allowed on the bus.”
After much argument with the driver, she went on. She was put to the back of the queue, and told she could only board if there was room once everyone else had got on.
“If these buses are not suitable for disabled people, then Compass should use buses that are,” she said.
“It is not acceptable to treat disabled people in this way, and limit their freedom.
“This is so discriminatory.”
West Sussex County Council has commissioned the service to run during the six-week closure, which started about three weeks ago.
A spokesman for the council said: “There is a weight restriction of 350 kilos for mobility scooters on the Compass shuttle bus.
“Unfortunately, if a passenger sitting in a mobility scooter exceeds that weight, it bends the ramp.
“However, passenger and vehicle will still be able to travel, provided they board the bus separately.”
The council, though, has praised the efforts of volunteers, who spent the first week of the closure directing people to the shuttle bus.
About 40 people gave a combined 280 hours of their own time.
Cabinet member for highways and transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “We are very pleased by the enthusiastic response we have had to the idea and it is good to see so much community spirit in action.
“Volunteers have expressed how much they have enjoyed being a part of the project.”
As well as helping people on their way, the volunteers were also able to answer questions on the new £10million bridge, and why it was being built.
Mr Montyn added: “We want to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who have given their time to help, and to Sussex Yacht Club, which has been enormously supportive.”
Shoreham’s MP Tim Loughton, the county council, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and Sustrans staff also assisted in the volunteering effort.
Carol Catt was one of those who signed up.
She said: “The pleasure has been all mine. I really enjoyed meeting the public and hearing all their stories, especially as I live in Shoreham.”
The footbridge is expected to stay closed for at least three more weeks.
For enquiries regarding the shuttle bus, call Compass on 01903 690025.