West Leeds: Theft of charity bus ‘devastating’

John Hardcastle, who ran the minibus until his death last year.
John Hardcastle, who ran the minibus until his death last year.
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Thieves have stolen a charity minibus used to help dozens of elderly people get out and about.

The Horsforth Community Minibus was taken from outside Woodside Methodist Church, on Outwood Lane in Horsforth, overnight on Monday.

The distinctive 20ft-long vehicle is run on a charitable basis and is used to take elderly people on outings and shopping trips as well as to social events.

It has about 100 regular users.

Susie Johnson, chairman of the Horsforth Community Minibus Fund, said: “It seems ridiculous that they could think that they are not going to hurt people by taking it. And we’re not just talking one or two families – we’re talking 70, 80, 100 families who will be affected.

“It says on the side that it’s a community minibus so there’s no doubt about what it’s there for. It’s quite devastating really.”

The bus service was started in the 1970s and the current vehicle has been in use for the last five or six years.

Funded by donations, and a nominal charge for users, it is available to hire for community groups.

The minibus was locked and secured with a wheel lock when it was broken into between 11pm on Sunday and 7am on Monday.

Mrs Johnson said the service provided a way for pensioners to socialise as well as

“They all sit and chat on the bus – friendships have been made that wouldn’t have been made otherwise – and they’re missing out on that aspect.

“It’s a way of helping people maintain their independence.”

Volunteers who run the minibus are due to meet on Friday to discuss how the service could be provided.

Anyone with information about the theft should contact the Leeds outer north west neighbourhood policing team via 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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