BOROUGH chiefs have agreed to axe a Knutsford bus service on evenings and weekends – while four villages will be cut off from the network entirely.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet unanimously voted to slash the number of supported bus services – although the cuts are not as severe as first intended.

The changes mean that Knutsford will lose its 300 service to Longridge at evenings and weekends, while Styal, High Legh, Mere and Little Bollington will all lose their only scheduled bus services.

Many more evening and weekend buses are being axed across the borough – including the 130 from Manchester to Macclesfield, which will no longer run on Sundays – but Cranage and Goostrey will retain a service, after the villages looked set to be cut off in the plans announced during consultation.

Cllr Paul Bates, CEC cabinet member for finance and communication, said: “We face challenging financial constraints and we recognise that some of our residents will be affected by a reduction in services.

“We have had to make some tough decisions, but we feel that we have met many of the concerns expressed in the consultation feedback by re-configuring some routes and retaining the subsidy on routes where the removal of services would have resulted in hardship.

“I want to thank all those people who took the trouble to contribute to the consultation, and we would like to see residents making greater use of our buses, where practicable, so that car dependency across the borough is reduced.”

CEC expects that the changes, which are expected to come into effect no sooner than April 2018, will save it more than £1 million.

The council cannot confirm that figure until the tendering process is complete, although it expects the savings will be less than the £1.6 million it first intended to make before consultation in the summer, when 3,959 responses were submitted.

The dial-a-ride ‘little bus’ will be available for residents who cannot access a scheduled service – although the fleet will be reduced from nine to five.

Goostrey and Cranage will lose its 319, and a new J2 route will take its place.

The service currently runs five times a day, but the new bus will run just twice daily, and Cllr Andrew Kolker, Tory CEC member for Dane Valley, fears residents will be cut off.

He said: “The bus service for some in my ward is a lifeline. In Cranage there are no shops, no banks and no health centres.”