PROPOSED changes to bus services that could see residents forced to pay fees have been branded as “heartless” and "cruel" by a senior councillor.

The plans could see residents forced to pay fees, as well as operational changes and cuts to back-office functions.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) said the proposals are being made in the light of "continued significant pressures on local authority budgets".

SEE ALSO: Basingstoke people react to changes to bus service proposed by county council

For many people, bus services provide a vital link between the town centre and surrounding areas.

These proposed changes come at a time when bus services are being forced to re-evaluate bus routes after they have come under pressure from a lack of drivers and rising operating costs.

Cllr Andrew McCormick leader of the Labour group at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has branded the proposals “heartless” and "cruel".

He said: “Well I don’t think they are very good. I think they are looking at cutting travel to school and this is a cause for concern.

“Travel to school is going to affect children and parents who might not then be able to afford it.

“I think the way they have done it is a bit cruel and heartless.”

Despite this, he said he understands why fees need to go up but said he wishes HCC had been “more successful” in getting money from the central government.

He also said “it will not be good” if plans to charge elderly people for using bus passes go ahead.

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HCC has recently held a consultation on the proposed changes, which will be discussed by councillors.

The council has said that it will continue to meet its statutory duties and to work in partnership with bus operators to secure a network of bus services for residents across Hampshire within the resources available.

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