A BUS operator has come under fire after announcing that a service to villages in Chorley and Leyland is to be scrapped.

Stagecoach announced last week that the 113 bus service which serves Eccleston, Croston, Ulnes Walton and Leyland Lane in Leyland will end in January.

Some have voiced concern that it will leave people in the villages facing difficulties travelling to Preston and Wigan.

Rachel Kellett of Leadale Road in Leyland said: “It is really frustrating as we aren’t given any notice at all.

“Stagecoach didn’t bother to tell people about stopping the 111 service until the day before.

“It’s wrong that they are allowed to abandon a large area of Leyland.

“I personally think they should get the 111 bus service running down Leyland Lane again.

“If the 113 is cancelled then the whole of Leyland Lane and Earnshaw Bridge won’t have a bus service at all.

“To catch a bus to go to Leyland or to Preston, residents would have to walk 15 minutes to get to Seven Stars to get a bus.

“The elderly and disabled can’t manage that.”

Meanwhile, Kim Snape parliamentary candidate for South Ribble and county councillor said: “I have been inundated by residents with their concerns over the recent news from Stagecoach to withdraw this service.

“This will leave large parts of South Ribble, Leyland and the surrounding villages of Ulnes Walton, Croston and Eccleston with little or no alternative.

“Public transport is key to school, work, life and to not isolate people in their communities.

“Sadly Stagecoach have announced that the reason for this announcement is the service has become unviable to operate.

“I would call upon them to think again and have discussions with partners and interested parties to seek a better way forward.”

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said:“Rural transport is vital to keeping our villages connected with the town centre and other transport networks; we know that younger people and the elderly are more reliant on public transport than most and this will be a real blow. I’m working with the operators and the transport authority to see how we can find a solution.”

Paul Sloan, Croston resident and local campaigner said: “Lots of residents in the Ulnes Walton, Croston and Eccleston area are concerned about how they will get to work, shops and most importantly maintain their independence.

“I am appalled that Stagecoach have left us in this situation.

“Sadly Stagecoach only seem to be interested in profit and not providing a public service.

“I am working with Kim to set up a petition and are in the process of getting it out to the community so that people can sign it and express their views to ask Stagecoach to think again and not go ahead with withdrawing this service.”

A spokesperson for Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire said: “This is not a decision the business has taken lightly. We have exhausted all options to keep the service in operation, but there has been a significant decline in the number of passengers over a long period of time and without financial assistance, the route is unfortunately no longer viable.

“Stagecoach made Lancashire County Council aware of its decision well in advance and we will be working closely with them to assist them where possible in providing alternative transport arrangements for communities affected.”