A RALLY protesting at planned bus cuts for Wiveliscombe and West Somerset is being organised on Saturday (February 10).

Somerset Bus Partnership wants to show public support for subsidised services which First Bus South wants to either axe completely or reduce from April.

The company, trading as Buses of Somerset, is proposing to reduce the No 25 route to three-hourly and cut the No 28 from 30-minute to 45-minute intervals when the subsidy expires.

The No 25 connects Dulverton, Bampton, and Wiveliscombe to Taunton, while the No 28 runs from Minehead via Dunster, Watchet, and Williton to the county town.

First Bus also said it would stop two buses from Taunton which serve Yeovil and other areas of South Somerset.

Somerset Council currently uses Government grant to subsidise the routes because low passenger numbers make them unviable despite a campaign encouraging more people to use them.

But the council, which is struggling to avoid bankruptcy with a £100 million budget shortfall, said it did not have the money to continue subsidies after March 31.

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative General Election candidate for a new constituency taking in parishes around Wellington and the Culm Valley, will raise concerns next week when he meets bus company managing director Simon Goff.

In the meantime, the bus partnership is rallying protestors in Yeovil town centre on Saturday at 11 am at The Borough, next to the war memorial in High Street.

It also plans further rallies in Taunton and other communities in Somerset.

Bus partnership co-chairman Peter Travis said: “While we hope negotiations that are now happening between Somerset Council and First Bus will reduce the impact of these proposed cuts, now is the time to hold a rally to show how important these routes are to the people.

“Bus users, many of whom have been the most affected by the cost-of-living crisis, need to be protected from yet further bus cuts.”

Mr Travis said First Bus was the largest transport provider in Somerset, accounting for 75 per cent of the bus mileage in the county.