A bus company has apologised after shocked passengers complained when a wheelchair user was denied access.

Penny Hill, of Halstead, said she was left astonished after the women was told to wait for another number 88 bus as she attempted to board it.

The incident happened on a Hedingham Omnibuses route departing from Colchester to Halstead last Thursday at 5pm.

Ms Hill, who was on her way home from the Mercury Theatre, said the bus driver refused the passenger entry because there were already two pushchairs in the designated space for wheelchair users.

Ms Hill said: “The bus driver said there wasn’t enough room and she would have to wait for another bus.

“I think a lot of the passengers were in shock.

“Everyone was talking about it and I think the woman herself was nearly in tears.

“It was not particularly warm outside and she had no real protection from the elements. It seemed so unfair “The two people who owned the pushchairs didn’t even bother helping even though one of them could have been folded up to make room.

“There was another woman on the bus who argued with the driver and then got off to wait with the other lady for the next bus to run along.”

It is illegal to block the wheelchair space with buggies.

Hedingham Omnibuses apologised and said it expects drivers to insist on buggies being moved, however it has no power to force people to do so. Ms Hill said: “I do have sympathy for the bus driver because he was only following the rules but he wasn’t very imaginative.

“He didn’t offer any solutions other than telling her to wait half an hour for the next bus to come along.

“It wasn’t very helpful and would have been nice to see him at least try to solve the problem.

“I don’t know who the lady was but I just think people should be aware about what happened.”

A spokesman for Hedingham Omnibuses has offered an apology to the wheelchair user denied access to the bus.

He said: “We are most sorry to hear about this incident and understand the distress that this must have caused.

“We take equal access for the less able very seriously – for example we have recently launched an initiative called Helping Hands to assist those with hidden disabilities.

“It is illegal to block the wheelchair space with buggies and we would expect our drivers to insist upon removal.

“Unfortunately there are sometimes circumstances where buggy users refuse to move out of the way and we have no power to force them to do so.”