A TWO-YEAR campaign pushing for the return of a bus route from Eastwood to Leigh could finally see the route reinstated.

Strong demand for the 23a bus, which was cut almost a decade ago, could see the route back in action, with campaigners being “closer than ever” to having the service back on the road.

Although plans aren’t yet set in stone, the route, which would travel from Southend Airport, through to Eastwood before finishing in Leigh, is expected to be approved by Southend Council and Arriva next week.

A spokesperson from Arriva said: “We can confirm we are currently in talks with local authorities regarding a potential new route.”

Eastwood Park Ward Councillor Paul Collins, said: “We’ve been trying since June 2018 to get this in place, and this is the closest we’ve ever been.

“We lost the service years ago as it was no longer commercially viable, but councillors are meeting with Arriva next week to come to an arrangement. It’s expected plans will go ahead, which is very exciting.”

Ron Woodley, cabinet member for Transport, Capital and Inward Investment, said: “Once arrangements have been made, we can get the route back under way. We are looking as a council to use section 106 money, which is typically used for social and community projects, to help fund the route for a year. If people use it, this will continue.”

Kimberley O’Connell, 45, from St Laurence, said: “I used the 23a to travel to Leigh all the time when I was younger, so it’s quite nostalgic for me.

“Everyone will benefit – those using the airport, the elderly, commuters who want to get to the rail station and people looking to travel into Leigh, which in the past we haven’t had easy access to. We’ve been after this for years, there’s been a huge demand for it.”

Belfairs Councillor Stephen Aylen, said: "This is something I've been pushing for for the past ten years, it's taken a lot of discussion and hard work.

"Myself and Councillor Walker were keen to have this service in place, so spent time approaching a variety of bus companies to help make it happen. It's always come down to funding

"This is what the people want."