A major bus company is to be asked to delay cutting services to many rural areas in Warwickshire.
And councillors at Warwickshire County Council’s full council meeting also called for it to be easier for rival bus operators to tender for routes under threat.
A Notice of Motion put forward by the Labour group and amended by the Lib Dems hit out at Stagecoach after it said it would cut services at the start of January.
Cllr Bob Stevens (Con Feldon) said: “All of us are disappointed and disgusted by the way that Stagecoach has unilaterally withdrawn rural and urban buses without any decent notice.
“One of my villages has 2,000 people and is going to have a whole bus service taken away and that’s just unacceptable.
“A lot of the planning applications had bus routes put down as Section 106 obligations but what’s the point of giving planning permission if they are going to take the service away.
“Generally, people who use the buses rely on them. I know it’s been said that buses go around with just four people on them but those four people would be stuck in their village if they didn’t have the bus so it is essential that we put as much pressure as possible on Stagecoach and on any other company to retain rural bus services within the county.”
The motion before the council said the cuts would isolate and affect communities in rural areas as well as the elderly and vulnerable in urban communities - discouraging rather than encouraging bus use.
It added: “The council urges Stagecoach to delay implementation of its proposals so that the impact of the proposals on the local communities affected and any steps to mitigate such impact can be further considered by Stagecoach in dialogue with the council. The council will also investigate ways of making it easier for alternative providers to tender for existing bus services that are under threat.”
Councillors voted unanimously to support the motion.
Warwickshire County Council will also be providing a new service to help with the cuts.
A new Warwickshire County Council tendered service 16 will operate from Hatton Park to Kenilworth via Hampton Magna, Chase Meadow, Warwick, Warwick Hospital and Leek Wootten.
A spokesperson from Stagecoach said: “We have had no official notification from Warwickshire County Council requesting us to delay our service changes in January. We would be deeply shocked by any such request given that we started consultation with them in September, giving them over three months notice of our intention.
“At no time over those three months has anyone asked us to delay our service change. To approach us at this stage would be far too late as we have already registered our services to start in three weeks time and communication with our passengers is well underway, with timetables already printed.
“These changes are a result of many services running with too few customers to cover the cost of operating the service and, in the same way that local authorities and Governments have to make tough decisions based on the resources available, we have to look at how best to future proof the local bus network by amending our timetables to reflect the demand for our services.”