THE leader of Malvern Hills District Council has called for an urgent meeting with First Bus bosses to persuade them to reconsider planned service cuts.

In an open letter to the company, Cllr David Chambers warns that the changes would leave many residents at risk of isolation, particularly those in rural areas.

He is also concerned that the loss of a direct bus link to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital would have a significant impact on residents.

Of the 24 routes affected by the changes, due to be brought in from 17 September, nearly half of them affect communities in the Malvern Hills district.

More than 5,400 households in the district do not have access to a vehicle and over 1,300 of them are households where the residents are in work.

Cllr Chambers said: “For many people in this district, their local bus service provides their only means of getting around.

This is not only crucial to allow them to access employment opportunities, attend GP appointments, do their shopping etc but is also a vital link to the outside world.

“I completely understand that these services are commercial routes but I believe First Bus need to give them more time to become embedded and operate efficiently.

"I hope they will take up the opportunity to come and meet with me and my fellow councillors to discuss these drastic reductions in, and withdrawal of, services.”

Yesterday, the council confirmed that it had made contact with First Bus, and a date for a meeting was being fixed.

First Bus was contacted for a comment, but had not responded by the time the Worcester news went to press.