USERS of the 197 Hagley to Kidderminster bus have hit out after Worcestershire County Council confirmed it is axing the much-loved rural service.

The bus, used by elderly residents in the villages of Hagley, Clent and Blakedown, will cease running in September.

County councillors voted at a cabinet meeting this month to scrap the 197, following a review of subsidised bus routes, in a bid to save £3million.

Bus user Janet Bloomfield from Clent said she and fellow passengers will be lost without the beloved service.

She added: “We’re all going to miss the bus. It’s a lovely route out to Kidderminster.”

Council bosses said the service was close to other bus routes and Blakedown would be served by diverting another route.

Community Transport is also being touted as an alternative.

The threatened 318 Stourbridge to Bromsgrove bus, which goes through Belbroughton and Hagley, and the 192, which goes from Stourport to Kidderminster and Halsowen via Hagley, will keep running as council chiefs conceded they provide "key rural inter-urban routes with significant numbers of students".

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said the majority of timetables for the saved routes will be finalised around July 7 after talks with commercial operators and those who run services under subsidised contracts have finished.

But Whittle Coach & Bus company has this week confirmed it plans to re-route the 192 from September 1 to cover part of the 197 service.

The 10.10am from Halesowen to Kidderminster service will run Monday to Saturday via Churchill and Blakedown Railway Station - with the return service leaving Stourport at 1.12pm.

General manager David Shipp said: "We have offered to do this in the interest of members of the community who contacted us to see if we could help."