LEDBURY is losing one of its bus services for good this weekend, with a public transport chief admitting he found out about the axing on Facebook.

Stagecoach is removing the 132 service which runs from Gloucester to Ledbury via Newent from this weekend.

And the bus company is also reducing its 32 service between Newent and Ross-on-Wye which will only operate a school and shopper link.

Stagecoach says the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the number of people using these routes, with buses north and west of Newent running at a loss.

But commuters in Newent and Dymock say they are “devastated” by the move and a petition signed by more than 1,300 people was presented to Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) today (February 16) to protect the routes.

Newent Liberal Democrats councillor Gill Moseley asked if Conservative councillor Philip Robinson, who is responsible for public transport at Gloucestershire County Council, whether he could confirm he found out about the changes via Facebook.

She asked whether a comprehensive protocol should be put in place so that the general public and councillors are informed of changes in good time.

Coun Moseley also asked if he could support any temporary or permanent replacement services through those areas.

Coun Robinson said: “It is true that I learnt about the reduction on those routes via Facebook.

“I did learn about them very quickly afterwards through GCC officers but I have some very good contacts on Facebook and probably that’s how I got the information, the same as you did, Coun Moseley. We both learnt about it that way.

“Given the low passenger numbers and the high cost it would not be a sustainable use of public funds to reverse the commercial decision of Stagecoach and subsidise a replacement service.

“The estimated cost of replacing the service on a like for like basis would be in the region of £150,000 a year, making it one of the most expensive in the county.

“As we have finite resources and need to provide value for money we have a policy to cap the maximum subsidy per return trip in rural areas. 

“This now stands at £9.42 per person. We expect that replacing the existing service would cost over £20.”