ALMOST 1,000 people in Kidderminster have signed a petition to save the free bus pass for pensioners.

Wyre Forest Campaign for Better Buses, which was set up by local Green Party members, collected the signatures in protest against Government proposals to axe universal entitlement to the bus pass and, instead, introduce a means-tested system.

Ronnie Lee, campaigns co-ordinator of Wyre Forest Green Party, said: “Once again the Government’s austerity cuts are hitting the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community the hardest.

“This bus pass is a lifeline for older people who do not drive because, without it, they will not be able to access vital services and amenities.

“Pensioner use of public transport also helps to keep vital services running, maintaining jobs in this important industry.

“This benefits us all. It is well known that good public transport systems strengthen communities, improve health and reduce pollution from private vehicles.”

The signatures were collected at stalls held outside Kidderminster Town Hall and will contribute to the grassroots Love the Bus Pass campaign, which aims to present a petition of 100,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street in support of the universal bus pass.

Wyre Forest Campaign for Better Buses was set up in 2013 in response to Worcestershire County Council’s plan to cut subsidies to local transport services.

The group collected more than 1,000 signatures in opposition to the £3 million money-saving proposals and contributed towards a record-breaking 8,500 responses to the public consultation questionnaire.