BUS company owner Justin Pickford has condemned Wiltshire Council’s proposal to cut subsidies and reduce more than 100 bus routes around the county.

Mr Pickford, who runs Faresaver based at Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate in Chippenham, has compared it with the controversial Beeching Report into the rail network, a sentiment echoed by pressure group Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

Mr Pickford, who has worked for Faresaver since 1993, says small bus companies will be forced out of business.

“The more we can shout now about the impact it will have on bus companies and passengers, then hopefully they will listen to us," he said.

“It will have a severe impact on all the bus companies, not just us. About two-thirds of our work is not subsidised but we will potentially lose a third of our businesses and small businesses will lose everything."

Faresaver was set up by his family in the 1970s after his father John bought a minibus and then expanded the business. The majority of its bus network is commercial and contracted.

However, ten of its services are subsidised by Wiltshire Council and are in jeopardy of being reduced. These include the 44A Chippenham town services bus, the 35 and 635 from Chippenham to Yatton Keynell and Castle Combe, as well as the 68/69 ZigZag service from Corsham to Melksham and Trowbridge.

Mr Pickford added: “Thousands of people, including the young, the elderly and the most vulnerable in society depend on buses. If you take away the means for these people to get to the shops and to work, there is bound to be an economical impact on many businesses, not just the bus companies.

"The UK bus industry needs government subsidies, it always has done.

“Everyone needs to support local buses, not just bus users. We are all in this together."

Last year, Wiltshire Council spent £5.1m on subsidising bus services and says it will save £804,000 a year by withdrawing subsidies from services after 7pm and on Sundays and bank holidays. It also spends around £4.3m a year on pensioners' concessionary bus passes.

Philip Whitehead, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for transport said: “We know how important bus services are for rural communities. However, we are under severe pressure to reduce the amount of budget that we spend on subsidising public transport.

“We are committed to minimising any impact changes might have, especially on vulnerable people including those who are elderly, disabled and young.”

Wiltshire Council has launched a consultation into its plans, which can be found at wiltshire.gov.uk/subsidised-bus-services-consultation. Paper copies can be picked up in council offices, libraries, on buses or people can call 0300 456 0100 to have one posted to them. The consultation runs until April 4.