Campaigners and councillors have urged the council to reconsider plans to cut two bus routes to the South Downs.

More than £30 million in budget cuts announced by Brighton and Hove City Council, including plans to end a £58,000 subsidy for the 77 route to Devil’s Dyke and the 79 route to Ditchling Beacon.

If approved, the 77 service would be reduced to just one bus an hour at weekends with the 79’s summer service axed altogether.

Green councillors have said that the council has a responsibility to ensure none of the city’s residents are blocked from accessing the South Downs.

Councillor Sue Shanks said: “We are very aware that the lack of sufficient government funding has forced Labour into making some very difficult decisions, but it is absolutely wrong to cut the subsidies for these two much-loved bus routes.

“Any cuts to affordable and accessible transport must be avoided, but these cuts proposed by Labour are particularly unwelcome.

“These plans risk cutting the poorest in our communities off from the South Downs, denying people the chance to visit the fantastic green spaces everyone in this city is rightfully proud of - and robbing them of all the benefits we know spending time in the countryside can bring in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.”

Brighton Active Travel have also been vocal in their opposition to the proposal, claiming it would be a “bizarre own-goal” to cut the services as they are “the cheapest way to get to the Downs quickly”.

Councillor Trevor Muten, chairman of the council’s transport and sustainability committee, said: “We know that having the 77 and 79 bus services are popular with residents and we’re really keen to keep them running.

“The 77 is run commerically so will continue to run at the weekend, but the budget subsidy reduction may mean with a reduced frequency and we will lose the summer-only 79.

“A couple of years ago, we were incredibly successful in bidding for government funding for a three-year bus service improvement plan.

“The Department for Transport awarded us around £28 million at the time, but on condition that they had the final say in how the money is spent.

“We have approached the Department for Transport to use the bus service improvement plan to support these services. We hope to have a decision on the support from this fund from the government in the near future.

“We’re working constructively with the Department to try and make sure we can spend some of the improvement plan money they gave us on keeping these two services running.

“We’re disappointed to be having to consider cutting council funding for them. However, we are keen that our bus service subsidies support residents most in need, and with limited budget it is important that the lifeline for less privileged communities is prioritised.

“But we have to make around £30 million of cuts to council budgets to avoid bankruptcy next year.

“We would encourage residents and visitors to use these bus services to access the Downs. Although the bus to the Dyke is popular, it cannot be good for the environment to run near empty buses to Ditchling Beacon and back.”