ELDERLY bus passengers will become “prisoners in their own homes” a Halesowen councillor has warned after the axing of bus routes.

The changes, by National Express West Midlands, also terminate direct bus services from Halesowen, Blackheath, Cradley Heath and Old Hill to Russells Hall Hospital.

Largely elderly and non-car owning Halesowen residents around Lodgefield Road and Station Road are no longer on a bus route following the demise of the 297/297A service from Sunday.

It has been replaced by an extended 241Dudley – Blackheath – Halesowen service going to Old Hill, Cradley Heath and Merry Hill, but the route will be via Haden Hill Road instead.

Objectors fear the alternative 4H in Gorsty Hill Road and the number 53 at the Beauty Bank and Station Road junction will be impractical for the frail and infirm because of the steep hill they would have to walk.

Belle Vale councillor Bob James, whose ward covers Lodgefield Road and Station Road said the bus company had failed to notify him.

He said: “The loss of this service is appalling as there are a lot of elderly residents in the area and they will be made prisoners in their own homes.”

He urged bus users to write to passenger transport authority Centro “to complain bitterly” about the loss of the 297 vowed to send his own protests.

The change, coupled with the withdrawal of the 205 from Blackheath and Dudley, means there are no direct service to the area’s main hospital.

A statement from National Express West Midlands 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. We have worked hard to ensure that residents were given notice of these changes and that they have as small an impact on existing customers as possible.

“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.”