MORE than 400 people have signed a petition to save a bus service which could be cut due to a threat to its funding from a cash-strapped council.

As previously reported in The Gazette, due to proposed cuts by Hampshire County Council (HCC) in its bid to save £140 million from its budget, subsidies previously given to run the number 12 service will no longer be available.

Campaigners who are fighting to save the bus route, which is operated by the Stagecoach Group and links Hatch Warren to the town centre passing through Brighton Hill, Cranbourne, Black Dam and Eastrop along the way, believe that HCC is not taking into account how many people use the ‘essential service’.

Grove resident John McKay, who set up the petition, claims that the number 12 has more than 450 passenger trips a day.

Mr McKay said: “At a time when Hampshire is spending millions to improve Basingstoke’s road network, it cuts bus services. The loss of these services will force many residents to switch to car travel. More congestion, more pollution. It’s crazy.

“HCC should be encouraging people to use public transport to help reduce congestion and air pollution. HCC needs a strategy to boost public transport, not chop it.”

Proposed cuts to bus subsidies will also affect passengers using the number 4 service, which runs from Chineham to the town centre via Buckskin, the number 14 from Tadley to the town centre and the Overton circular number 74 service.

It has not been confirmed which services would have to be dropped entirely if subsidy cuts go ahead but it is believed only the number 12 route would be up for the chop.

As previously reported in The Gazette, executive member for environment and transport at HCC, Councillor Rob Humby said no decisions on the number 12 or any subsidised route have yet been made.

Cllr Humby added: ”We are committed to working with bus operators on improving bus travel throughout Hampshire and have, for some years, directed our available financial resources to support public transport on improvements that encourage more people to use it.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council already provides a subsidy to nine bus services, as well as the ‘Dial a Ride’ initiative, but this subsidy does not include the number 12 service.