WORCESTERSHIRE County Council says there has been no breakdown in relationship with Coniston Coaches after it terminated all bus contracts.

The Stourport-based bus operator announced at the weekend it has terminated all contracts with with the council after 15 years, citing owner Keith Taylor's health problems and "ongoing issues" with the council.

The post read: "We would like to inform all of our customers that we as a company have decided to terminate all of our contracts with Worcestershire County Council.

"We have come to this sad decision following the on going serious health issues of Keith.

"This is combined with the on going issues and a breakdown of our long working relationship with Worcestershire County Council."

The announcement goes on to say that Coniston will continue to operate all services until Worcestershire County Council has found replacement operators.

This includes the 296 from Bewdley, Stourport and Worcester, the S15 between Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley, the 580 between Kidderminster and Kinver, the 133 from Kidderminster to Droitwich and the 213 between Stourport and Astley Burf.

Coniston goes on to say: "We would like to thank all of our fantastic, hard working staff, past and present, who have been the heart and soul of these services.

"We would also like to thank each and every one of our loyal and appreciative customers who we have been honoured to serve over the many years.

"This doesn't affect any other bookings that customers may have with us."

Mr Taylor told The Shuttle the company will continue operating as a smaller family business, and said six drivers have been made redundant as a result of the decision.

He said: "I've got ill-health and I decided I can do without the hassle. The company has no problems money-wise.

"We are going to work with the council as much as we can to make sure these services carry on running."

But the county council has denied any breakdown in relationship with the firm, insisting the two had a "good working relationship and regular communication".

A spokesman said: "There has been no breakdown in the relationship with Conistons. We have had a good working relationship and regular communication.

"Conistons has informed us that they are ceasing trading and we are currently assessing options for the work they undertake for the county council."

The announcement has prompted concerns from people in the local community, including Wyre Forest Green Party, which said a co-operative made up of councils and community groups should take over the running of local bus services.

Bewdley by-election candidate Andrew Copley said: "This is a blow to a local business and for bus users in our District. We hope Coniston will continue to serve Wyre Forest in the best way it can.”

"It is disappointing that the county council and Coniston could not work together."