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Lots of people inside a bus, waving straight at the camera
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December 13, 2022

Raiders of the White Rose

Profile image for Mark Woodsworth

Programme Manager, Travel Connections

What happens if you cross a bus company, a shopping centre and a group of older people? On November 28 and 29 we decided to find out!

As part of the Travel Connections Let’s Talk Transport project members from four Neighbourhood Networks – Crossgates & District Good Neighbours’ Scheme, MHA South Leeds, Belle Isle Senior Action and Burmantofts Senior Action, along with Feel Good Factor  – were invited to the White Rose Shopping Centre to meet with representatives from First Bus Leeds, the William Merritt Centre and the White Rose.

Lots of people inside a bus, waving straight at the camera

On each day the members were picked up from a bus stop near to their Neighbourhood Network location by one of First Bus Leeds’ shiny new electric buses and then went on a ride across the city to The White Rose Shopping Centre, accompanied by First’s Brandon Jones (Head of External Relations) and Richard Harrison (Public Relations Manager) who were there to answer questions on the journey.

Woman in wheelchair, smiling with both thumbs up, with other people further back, some using walking sticks.

Chaos and carnage ensued as the members went on a rampage across the city, finally descending on the prize, The White Rose Shopping Centre. Upon arrival they were met by two of the fiercest custodians of the centre, Tania and Amy, who warned them of what would follow if any of the centre’s sacred sites – the shops – were desecrated! But we were not there to shop. We were on a different mission: Let’s Talk Transport.

After a quick pit-stop the legion marched, or rode chariots, from one end to the other, where  freshly brewed beverages were served, and there was a chance to rest and await the arrival of the wisemen who had come to parley.

The first of the wisemen to speak was the Chieftain of Clans (Director) for the White Rose Centre, Steven Foster. Having welcomed the weary travellers Steven went on to explain the many wondrous facilities available to all who came in peace to his beloved kingdom. These included:

  • The White Rose train station scheduled to open in 2023
  • Quiet Hours 10:00-12:00 every Tuesday, for those who prefer a calmer shopping environment without music, product demonstrations or mall activities
  • Mall Walking that allows visitors to exercise in a safe, warm and dry environment, make new friends and have fun at the same time
  • Shopmobility service managed by William Merritt Centre who can provide a variety of wheelchairs and scooters to assist visitors getting around the centre

Next to speak were the ambassadors and expedition leaders of First Bus Leeds, Brandon Jones and Richard Harrison, who regaled the travellers of the ambitions and plans to improve the available means of traversing the city of Leeds; highlighting the new fleet of zero emissions exploratory vessels (electric buses) and heralding systems in local ports (information screens in bus stops). Lastly the wisemen of First Bus shared the secrets of how to magically travel across the region by applying for and utilising the sacred text that is the free bus pass.

There then followed a period of questioning by the travellers. I am pleased to say that no harm came to any of the wisemen during this inquisition.

After all that talking there was only one thing left to do: bring on the mead and suckled pig, and let the feast begin! (Well, with mead and suckled pig not available, we made do with fish & chips and a cuppa.)

Older man, who is stood up, speaking to a group of mostly older people, sat round a table in a large room.

Once the feasting and revelry was done a wiseman from within the travellers took centre stage and spoke of his very own vision quest for his comrades in arms. David Smith (trustee of Leeds Older People’s Forum and of Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours’ Scheme) spoke of his trials and tribulations as he sought the abolition of the perceived injustice being forced on the older serfs of Leeds in comparison to other communities; the scrapping of the 09:30 cut-off time to use a bus pass.

With the parley complete and the feasting done there was only one thing left to do: journey home and share the news to all who would listen.

Carry On My Wayward Sons! (and daughters!)

Mark Woodsworth 
Travel Connections Programme Manager