Published on: November 17, 2023
Cllr Dan Nelson and Cllr Martin Berry joined Glen Shuttleworth from VECTEO, Rob McAvoy from Project Southchurch and Caroline Reynolds from Garon Park CIC to relaunch the Garon Park Shuttle bus service, enabling people to get to Garon Park from Shoebury and Southchurch.
The service has been made possible through Smarter Travel funding, administered by the Community Investment Board and is a response to consultation about the lack of public transport into Garon Park which excludes many Southend residents who find the bus services inadequate either due to their timings or because the drop off point is too far away: either behind McDonalds on Eastern Avenue or in Cokefeild Road.
Garon Park offers a wide range of activities to support the “Health and Wellbeing” of local people. The offer includes:
- Garon Park CIC – with Football, Netball and Cricket
- Wellbeing at Garon Park – Beautiful parkland, Vitality Centre, Community Gardens and Heritage orchard
- The Hive Nature school – for schools, nurseries and community groups
- Garon Park Woodworking Shed open Tuesdays 10am – 1:30pm
- Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre
- Padel Tennis
- Kids Kingdom
- Just Ride – Open Tuesdays Wednesday and Saturdays 10am – 12noon
- Garon Park Golf
- Garon Castle Adventures
There is plenty of free parking on site but for those who rely on public transport the options are limited.
The businesses have therefore worked with local community groups and the community investment fund to set up a shuttle service from Shoebury to Garon Park via Southchurch which runs each Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing people from Shoebury to pick up the bus from either Asda Shoebury 10am, outside Shoebury Youth Centre 10:05am or at Ilfracombe Avenue Car Park 10:20am in Southchurch.
The service is being run by VECTEO to ensure the reliability and professionalism of the service. People wishing to use the service should ring Southend Dial A Ride on 01702 908 888 option 3 to book a place which costs £3 for the round trip. A family ticket costs £10 return for 4 people.
The shuttle bus leaves Garon Park to return to Shoebury at 1:30pm.
Glen Shuttleworth | Transport & Operations Manager at VECTEO
“Vecteo are pleased to have been asked to take part in this project to provide new transport links from areas of Southend to Garon Park.
We believe it is extremely important to help join areas of our community directly with the great activities available at Garon Park.
The community at Shoeburyness and Southchurch have asked us to provide this link and It is hoped that we can prove that there is a need for it.”
Caroline Reynolds Commercial Manager at Garon Park CIC
“Shoebury residents were canvased for their views by the Schools Partnership and one of the key issues raised was that they felt unable to access some key services enjoyed by Southend residents in other areas as there was no bus service linking them with Garon Park and all the Health and Wellbeing services on offer there.
We did talk to the local bus operators initially but they wanted over £100k to set something up so we were delighted to receive funding from the Community Investment Fund to allow us to set up this Shuttle bus to enable local residents to get to the local sports and wellbeing services.”
Rob McAvoy from Project Southchurch
“ The Service is from Shoebury to the heart of Southchurch and onto Garon Park, benefiting the community by allowing residents to access the fantastic facilities at Garon Park.”
There is so much on at Garon Park with new activities being added all the time such as Padel Tennis. Garon Park is the only place in the area offering Padel Tennis and they have lots of wonderful deals available to allow people to try the sport out. There is a Multi cultural ladies group which meets each Wednesday morning, a fun child’s activity session called Leapfrogs and so much more.
For people who are interested in gardening and nature then we have lovely community gardens at Garon Park where people are welcome to come as volunteers to enjoy the outdoors, meet others and learn new skills.
On Tuesday mornings the Garon Park Shed is open from 10am – 1:30pm where people can come to learn or share woodworking skills in a friendly supportive environment, everyone is welcome so if you are interested please call to speak with Ian on 01702 965959.
Just Ride is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am – 12noon so this is another activity that people can get involved in allowing them to enjoy cycling again with a wide range of bikes suitable for all abilities and ages.
Everyone coming over on the bus is welcome to come into the Pitchside Café to get a free tea or coffee which they are able to enjoy while getting to know the site and what is on offer.” Says Caroline Reynolds – Commercial Development Manager at Garon Park CIC which manages a 32 acre site offering sports including a 3G football pitch, cricket and netball, and a wide range of wellbeing services.
“We really hope people will use the service so we can help demonstrate the need and continue to support families in Southend to improve their health and wellbeing through the wide range of facilities on offer.”