VISUALLY-impaired pensioner Norma Aidley says she faces having to pay for a taxi to do her shopping due to the proposed withdrawal of her lifeline bus.

Norma, 80, lives in Chester Road, Mere, and had to give up driving about eight years ago after developing macular degeneration.

She takes the 289 bus to Altrincham to visit the supermarkets, but from the end of this month faces having to pay for a taxi or ask her family to help.

The service, which runs between Northwich, Knutsford and Altrincham, and is subsidised by Cheshire East Council, is set to be withdrawn from March 31.

The service is operated by Howards Travel and Springfield Bus and Coach, and runs three times a day on Monday to Friday and three times on Saturday from Bucklow Hill, where Norma catches it to Altrincham.

She also takes the 289 into Knutsford, but from April will not be able to catch the bus to either town if the service goes.

“I go to Altrincham to do my shopping because there’s a Tesco and Sainsbury’s and all the big shops, as well as the market,” said Norma.

“I also use the bus to go into Knutsford – I like having the choice - but from next month I don’t know what I’ll do – I’ll have to take a taxi, which will cost me a lot more money than catching a bus.

“I need my independence, and this is making me ill with the worry of it all. I should be entitled to my transport.

“There’s a lot of people like me who cannot see and should be looked after – perhaps they could put on a smaller bus.

“There’s nothing around here, no shops - we have a petrol station at the bottom of the road.”

Gareth Hughes, operations manager at Howards Travel and Springfield Bus and Coach, said the 289 service was wholly subsidised by Cheshire East Council.

The council funding was being withdrawn from the end of this month, he said, and without the council subsidy the service was not commercially viable for the company to run.

On November 7 changes to the supported (subsidised) bus services in Cheshire East were approved by the Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet.

A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: “Following its review of bus services across the borough, the council continues to try to find ways to ensure that residents have a reasonable access to alternative services.

“In the case of the 289 serving Mere, the council can confirm that the current 47 bus service will be extended to connect Warrington and Knutsford via High Legh and Mere. We hope this will be introduced from April 3.”