LAST minute talks have saved a vital transport service used by hundreds of elderly and disabled people.

Southend Dial a Ride, run by Access Anyone on behalf of Southend Council, contacted its 400 members to warn of problems funding and subsequent changes to the service effective from this week.

People contacted the Echo worried about the changes fearing it could leave people in isolation or forced to take expensive taxi trips to community clubs or doctors appointments.

The organisation was proposing cutting the service to 9am to 4pm weekdays and dropping single passenger journeys to only fixed routes to set destinations.

However a successful meeting between Dial a Ride and the council means it will continue as it is.

Director Jim Milligan said: “It was a make or break meeting. We had to warn people of the worst scenario but hope to secure more funding to be able to carry on .”

Bert Goodbourn from The Village organisation which brings together people of all ages and levels of disability was delighted as he had concerns about people being stranded at home.

Mr Goodbourn, 79, from Leigh, said: “People use this for medical appointments, social clubs to go bowling to the seafront all different places.

 “Disabled and elderly people would have been stuck in alone so this will ease a lot of worry and upset.”

The service will continue to operate from 8am until 5:30pm on Mondays to Fridays; 8am until 1pm on Saturdays and for travel to work weekdays 7am until 9am and 4pm until 6pm.