Buses serving hospitals, schools and suburban areas will be scrapped – despite fierce opposition.

Dozens of campaigners protested outside Hove Town Hall today (June 14) against the plans by Brighton and Hove City Council to end about 12 subsidised routes from September.

The Green-controlled local authority believes it can save about £230,000 a year as it looks to combat Government-imposed cuts.

It added a further 17 non-profit making routes costing £900,000 a year would continue for the next four years.

But critics said it would stop the elderly and teenagers from leaving their homes, adding it would increase car traffic.

Among the protesters presenting a series of petitions with hundreds of signatures were school children from Hove Park School.

They use the 96 service from the Westdene area of Brighton every day.

However the local authority said it could not afford the £38,000 subsidy to run it.

The Green administration did say it would work with parents, schools and providers to find alternatives to transport youngsters every day.

'Cannot continue'

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: "We are fortunate that in our city 98% of routes do not require a subsidy but school routes are particularly challenging to run without subsidy.

"We cannot continue to carry the costs of running some of the school bus routes on their historical basis."

Jayne Bennett and Vanessa Brown, who represent Hove Park, said they had collected about 160 individual letters from residents about the ending of the 81 service on Monday to Saturday evenings.

Coun Bennett said: "Many people, particularly the elderly, are totally dependent on this service. They will be prisoners in their homes."

Gemma Alexander, 23, of Ainsworth Avenue, Ovingdean, collected more than 300 signatures in a day and a half against the ending of the 52 which connects the area with the city centre.

She added: "I've been knocking on doors and a number of people didn't know about it. They hardly gave us any notice."

The council said it was not able to make public the affected routes any earlier due to the "competitive bidding process".

Opposition suggestions

The Conservative group proposed the local authority find funding to keep the 27, 22, 52 and 81 services.

It also suggested looking again at the 96 and that they postpone any change until September 2013 at the earliest.

The Labour group suggested funding for all of the affected routes was found from the Green’s commitment to the One Planet Living project aimed at reducing people’s carbon footprint.

Both of these were voted down by Green councillors who have the casting vote on the influential policy and resources committee yesterday.

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