THE three parish councils affected by the Southern Vectis timetable axe accused the bus company of refusing to discuss a financial package to reinstate the hourly summer Route 6 service.

Chale, Chillerton and Gatcombe, and Niton and Whitwell Parish Councils, which help to fund the Route 6 winter timetable, were angered when Southern Vectis announced last month just five return trips a day will run between Newport, the villages and Ventnor.

Southern Vectis said passenger numbers did not justify the previous summer service, and it was forced to take the decision because of withdrawal of Isle of Wight Council funding. It said it would continue to monitor passenger numbers.

A statement from the three councils said: "It was as though the new Southern Vectis management was unaware of the financial support we’ve been giving the service — and we only learned of its plans through third parties.

"We certainly haven’t given up on community transport and there are other options we’ll be looking at. 

"We have a high proportion of bus pass holders on this route — disabled as well as elderly people — who are suffering quite severe hardship and expense as a result of the present skeleton service."

Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart is to meet the head of Southern Vectis’s parent company on March 30 to discuss the decision.

He said Southern Vectis had agreed to put in an extra Sunday evening bus over the summer, an additional service in the day and gave a commitment to consider extra provision for students. 

"The Isle of Wight Council has a contract with Southern Vectis which runs into millions of pounds but it seems there is little flexibility from it when it comes to matters of maintaining a service, such as the Number 6 route, if it is not commercially viable. In the meantime I again urge Southern Vectis to think again."

• For more on this story, please see the Isle of Wight County Press tomorrow (Friday).