HEREFORDSHIRE Council has admitted its proposed public transport cuts could hit the elderly and young people.

The authority must make £42 million in savings by 2020 on top of almost £50 million already saved in the past five years.

It has put forward a number of cost-saving proposals to do this, including the removal of its public transport subsidy.

In its consultation papers the council says it can no longer afford to fund a public bus service so could withdraw subsidies over a three-year period to "allow time for individuals and local communities to explore alternative transport options".

It says the move could save up to £1 million.

At present, all public transport in the county is provided through private companies, which Herefordshire Council provides subsidies to.

But the proposal has been criticised by a Kington shopkeeper who believes the idea is further proof the council has forgotten the town.

"You can't get to Leominster from here now," said Mark Williams, who runs a hardware shop.

"People have dentists and so on in Leominster but to get there you have to go via Hereford.

"We've already had cuts here. I just think the council isn't fit for purpose. We're bottom of the priorities out here."

A county-based transport group is also unconvinced the proposal would work.

"We're in favour of having decent public transport because that would take traffic off the road," said John Perkins, the secretary of the Hereford Transport Forum.

"But I don't think any local company would be able to take on the service and provide competitive rates without the subsidies.

"I'm sure a lot of elderly residents who rely on buses will not be very amused."

Mr Perkins urged all residents to take part in the consultation.

County bus services have been in the news a lot this year.

In June, First Midland said it would discontinue its Hereford service as it had not been viable for a number of years.

The service will now be taken on by Yeomans and DRM, beginning next month.

Council leader, Cllr Tony Johnson, said the proposed changes form just one set of a broader set of proposals and questions in the council's budget consultation.

"It is vitally important that Herefordshire residents respond to the consultation and have their say as the responses we receive will impact on any decisions made," he said.

"We also welcome thoughts and ideas on how we can continue to deliver services whilst meeting the huge financial challenges we face now and in the future."