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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Anger as village bus routes axed
A row has broken out over a bus company's decision to axe routes serving a rural village.

Dorset County Council transport bosses said they were "stunned" by the decision of Wilts & Dorset to end four routes serving Corfe Mullen.

From 4 June, the 108, 130, 131 and 133 services linking the area with Poole and Wimborne will stop running.

Bus company chiefs said they were angry at the council's criticism, adding that further talks were still to be held.

It's a situation which is clearly unsustainable and seriously undermines public confidence
David Dawkins, Dorset County Council

A council spokesman said the cuts "along with recent fare increases, can only undermine efforts to encourage use of public transport and provide better access for rural areas".

David Dawkins, the county council's transportation policy manager, said: "Wilts & Dorset has been hinting at bus service changes in this area but I was extremely disappointed by the extent of the cuts which, in particular, remove bus services from Corfe Mullen in the shortest possible timeframe.

"We are seeing both large price increases and a contraction of services from one of the leading bus companies in Dorset.

"It's a situation which is clearly unsustainable and seriously undermines public confidence."

'Buses running empty'

But Andrew Wickham, operations director for Wilts & Dorset, said that the new timetable would see more efficient services introduced across the Bournemouth and Poole areas.

He added that the company was to hold talks with the county council over the possibility of a subsidised service being run for Corfe Mullen.

He added: "What's happening in Corfe Mullen is that over the years the number of people using the service has gone down and down while the cost of running buses has gone up and up.

"Ultimately there's no point in running buses that people are not on and buses into Corfe Mullen are running empty at the moment."

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