A CAMPAIGN has been launched to reinstate two bus services which have been axed leaving Halesowen, Blackheath, Old Hill and Cradley Heath residents without a direct link to Russells Hall Hospital.

Hundreds of people have already signed a petition demanding National Express West Midlands reverse the decision to pull the 297 and 205.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Labour's Halesowen and Rowley Regis parliamentary candidate Stephanie Peacock.

Miss Peacock said: "This is yet another blow to public transport in Halesowen and Rowley Regis.

"After the inflation busting train ticket increases earlier in the year and the debacle over Cradley Heath rail station crossing, our bus service is being downgraded.

"National Express made this decision will little consultation with local residents or councillors. We are being ignored and it is unacceptable.

"None of these changes were made in regard to the bus network review process with Centro and local stakeholders; it was a unilateral commercial decision without any thought to the consequences for hospital users."

Cradley Heath and Old Hill Councillor Ann Shackleton has been collecting names for the petition and slammed National Express.

Cllr Shackleton added: "I have never known a petition to have such a positive response from local residents, young and old.

"People are incensed about these bus services being axed because it really effects their lives."

She added: "National Express are just oblivious to local residents needs, for so many people not to have a direct link to the hospital is totally wrong.

"However, they have increased services to Merry Hill Shopping Centre which is shows they have their priorities wrong."

Hospital visitors or outpatients who relied on the 205 and 297 will now have to get two buses and in some cases three to get to the local hospital taking nearly an hour.

Miss Peacock added: "I will be talking to local residents to see how we can get National Express to think again.

"Local people have been campaigning to get the government to invest in local hospital provision but this will be undermined if our areas many bus users cannot get to Russells Hall."

A National Express West Midlands spokesman said: “Changing local travel patterns have required us to review and alter some routes. While some areas will see increased services, unfortunately these changes will also mean that buses will no longer travel down Lodgefield Road and Station Road.

“Residents will now have an improved 241 service at the end of Station Road and the frequent 4H service at the end of Lodgefield Road. "We apologise for any inconvenience these changes cause.”

To sign the petition visit www.stephaniepeacock.co.uk.