DURSLEY residents and Labour councillors fear that changes to bus services could have a negative impact on the community.

The concerns are directed at proposed changes to Stagecoach bus services in Dursley, which will come into play on Sunday, November 2 .

Parents and wheelchair users will suffer most from the loss of the number 21, which runs through Stroud, Uley and Dursley and is the only bus in the area with a low floor for easier access.

Stagecoach is introducing a new network with services numbered 61, 62, 63, 64, 66 and 67.

The 21, which currently runs through the Rangers and “Poets” estates, off Woodmancote, stopping at Shakespeare Road, is to be replaced by a service that will no longer stop in this part of the town.

Stroud district councillor for the Dursley ward Doina Cornell is angered by the changes, and the lack of public consultation carried out by Stagecoach.

She said: “Considering that so many people rely on buses in our rural area, especially the elderly and those with young families, it really is terrible that changes can be brought in without any local consultation.

“How on earth will people get to Dursley town centre after November 2 if mobility issues or babies in pushchairs mean they can't even get onto the bus?”

Jean Gardner, 76, of Byron Road, on the “Poet’s Estate”, is just one resident who feels her daily life will be changed by the loss of the 21.

She said: “It would be a real shame to lose the 21. There aren’t any other services that are easily accessible and I do struggle with getting up the steps onto some of them.

“I worry about people with mobility problems who may struggle to get their walkers onboard.

“It will have an effect on me because my husband is unwell and I don’t like to leave him alone for too long."

Gloucestershire County Councillor for Dursley Steve Lydon said: “Stagecoach is a company that makes decisions based on profit not public need.

“We have a disintegrated not integrated public transport system.

“I am disgusted by the total lack of consultation and information about the changes. I urge people to complain to west.enquiries@stagecoachbus.com.”

Cllr Lydon is seeking an urgent meeting with Gloucestershire County Council’s lead officer to clarify matters.

He intends to ask the council whether it is possible to look at how bus contracts are given subsidised services with a view to prioritising companies that own accessible buses.

He continued: “It’s more than asking why there are cuts and losses to the services; it raises wider questions like where the money goes in the process of it all and how the companies, like the bus services themselves, communicate with people who actually use the buses.

“People aren’t told about all the changes and then they don’t get a chance to communicate back and residents should be told about it.

“It’s strange because we want people to use public transport and yet with this public bus, which is very much used, it seems people are being dissuaded.”

Stagecoach West have said the changes will improve reliability and punctuality.

Managing director Rupert Cox said: "This is an exciting time for bus services in the Stroud and South Gloucestershire area.

"These are the biggest changes to timetables and routes for the area for decades. We believe that they will encourage more people to travel by bus."

The 21 currently runs from 6.20am to 6.30pm on weekdays and 7.30am to 6.30pm on Saturdays.

The updated timetables are available at www.stagecoachbus.com/west.