A MALVERN Hills councillor has launched a petition opposing cuts to bus services linking the town to Worcester.

First Bus has announced that from September 17, there will be reductions to a large number of services affecting the town and the city, as well as villages such as Welland and Callow End.

Among the affected services are the 44/44x, meaning there will be no direct link from Malvern to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Natalie McVey, a Green Party member on Malvern Hills District Council, has set up a petition which has already gained more than 400 signatures.

She said: “I would be absolutely delighted to reach 1,000 signatures before we hand the petition in to First next week.

“I have already heard from people in my ward who say they will not be able to go to work or university of these cuts are carried out.

“Worcestershire’s rural transport is poor enough anyway, but these cuts will absolutely decimate it.”

She is being supported by fellow Green councillors John Raine and Chris Reed.

Cllr Raine said: “We have to thank the deregulation of bus services quite some years ago for this dreadful state of affairs - and the more recent banning by government of local authorities from operating services in competition with commercial operators.

“It really is a dreadful prospect for those who absolutely depend on the buses, and very depressing for us all with regard to the implications for more congestion and air pollution on our roads.”

Cllr Reed said: “Withdrawing most of this service and completely removing the direct service from Malvern to the hospital is a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Sarah East, head of operations at First Worcester said: “We have undertaken an in-depth review of our services running to county locations. We are also now 11 months into the trials we implemented on some of our routes, such as the 44 Malvern and Pershore corridors and have been evaluating the uptake, and sustainability of these services.”