ELDERLY residents in Bewdley are having to "rely on neighbours" to take them to hospital appointments in Kidderminster, following the cancellation of a Diamond Bus service.

More than 200 people have signed a petition to reinstate the 2A bus, which ran between Bewdley and Kidderminster via Bark Hill, after it was axed at the end of last month in an effort to improve the reliability and performance of Diamond's services.

Bewdley resident and former chief officer at Kidderminster's Age UK, Jenny Knowles, who launched the petition, said: "I've had an absolutely fantastic response to the petition because people in Bark Hill feel so angry that they no longer have this bus service.

"A lot of these people are very elderly but their concessionary bus passes are no longer any good to them because they aren't able to walk all the way to Hales Park on the other side of the Cleobury Road to get the number 2.

"I know from my previous job at Age UK how important buses are to elderly people - not just to get them to hospital appointments and to take them shopping but to get out of the house and break up the day.

"These short journeys keep them sane and it's something people will really miss."

Bewdley town councillor Rod Stanczyszyn says he has received complaints from elderly residents who are having to rely on lifts from neighbours or relatives to get into Kidderminster town centre or to hospital appointments.

Former 2A bus user Margaret Miles, 75, told The Shuttle: "This couldn't have come at a worse time of year. It's the ones older than me I'm worried about.

"I did use the bus a lot and I've got a heart problem but I'm still able bodied and even for me Bark Hill is a killer to walk up.

"I've seen some of the really old people walking up while I've been walking down and they're struggling.

"It will be even worse with bags of shopping at Christmas time. I don't know how they'll cope."

The petition calls on Worcestershire County Council to increase bus subsidies to enable Diamond Bus to reinstate its service to Bark Hill.

A spokesman for Diamond said: “Our decision to reduce the 2/2A route was purely based on patronage.

"Before the service was curtailed we consulted with the local MP and as a result of this consultation we extended the service for a further 28 days.

"During that period we sought consultation with Worcestershire County Council regarding the service reduction.

"It was their opinion that the 292 service which they currently subsidise provided a sufficient level of service along that corridor.

"At this moment in time, without significant subsidy we have no intentions to reinstate the 2A service.”

Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member with responsibility for highways at Worcestershire County Council, said: "The cancellation of the 2A service was a commercial decision taken by the operator. The council has not removed any subsidy on this route. The petition should be directed to Diamond Bus."