RESIDENTS have questioned why Essex County Council has spent hundreds of pounds replacing bus stops and signs for a route that will be scrapped next month.

Hedingham Omnibuses is to axe its number three route, which connects Parsons Heath to Colchester town centre, the Hythe and Greenstead.

The service is not making any money and no rival bus companies have stepped in.

So residents were surprised to see contractors remove the bus stops and signs and replace them with new ones throughout the estate.

David Mummery, a member of Parsons Heath Residents’ Association, said: “The signs they’ve put up along the route are on roads which have no other bus service, apart from a school bus.

“What a flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money.

“I realise co-ordination is not a speciality of Essex County Council, but even it has got to stop spending money on contractors putting up new bus stop signs where they’re not needed.”

Mr Mummery said the wider issue was the number of residents in Parsons Heath who now face a long walk to Harwich Road to catch a bus, instead of catching one at Bridgebrook Green.

To get home from the bus stop, they must also walk up a hill along Hazelton Road.

Mr Mummery said: “My key concern is at Bridgebrook Green there is social housing, some of which is dedicated to the elderly and disabled, and the bus stop there is of enormous value to those people who find it hard to get around.”

He said he had contacted the county council’s highways department, and county and borough councillors, to see if the service could be reinstated, but had received a limited response.

An Essex County Council spokesman initially told us it believed Network Colchester had plans to take on the number three route.

However, Network Colchester said while it is taking on Hedingham’s number four service in west Colchester, it had no plans to launch a service in the east of the town.

The spokesman later said the money had come from developers and had to be spent on replacing buses, so the council decided to replace the soon to be redundant stops anyway.

It added its bus stop replacement programme across Colchester had started before there were any plans to scrap the service, so it completed the replacement in Parsons Heath anyway.