SEVERAL bus services across Wyre Forest will be slashed or reduced but not to the extend first feared and school routes will be protected after Worcestershire County Council announced its latest proposals.
The council's Conservative cabinet discussed the revised plans on Tuesday to slash the county bus budget £1.9 million to £1.1 million. Leaders went back to the drawing board after original proposals to cut its entire bus subsidy sparked outcry and a council record-breaking 8,500 residents responded to a consultation.
In Wyre Forest two of the 20 services originally threatened with the chop will go - the 197 Hagley to Kidderminster, which goes through Blakedown and the circular 7A bus service at Kidderminster's Offmore Road.
Only three service will stay exactly the same - the 294/295 Kidderminster to Worcester, via Stourport, the 297 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth and the 213 Stourport to Astley Burf. Others will see revised timetables, reduced service or raised costs. Some will be re-routed to for users affected by reduced or slashed services.
The revised proposals will protect school services which will come as a relief to Wolverley Secondary School parents and pupils who had expected to lose their school bus, although the "revised network of services" to the school are yet to be detailed.
Council cabinet member, Conservative John Campion, said: "Cabinet has listened to the consultation responses and we have started to negotiate with bus service providers. Wyre Forest has done particularly well and we will still have a good bus service. There are always more services and routes we would like to see added but considering the financial situation we find ourselves in this is a good day for bus users in the district."
Despite the blow being softened, Ronald Lee of Wyre Forest Green Party who helped lead a save our buses campaign, said: "We want more support for buses not less, we do not want any bus cuts. These cuts affect the poorest people in our community."
Member of Worcestershire Youth Cabinet for Wyre Forest Craig Bateman, 17, who organised a petition to help protect young people from bus cuts, said: "I am delighted there has not been too much impact on young people."
The bus services subsidised by the council is 20 per cent of the total network. Of the 97 routes across the county, only 17 are staying exactly the same and just 13 will vanish altogether.
Final plans will be implemented in September.