CAMPAIGNERS battling to save vital bus routes in Pershore say they will continue their fight until the bitter end.

The defiant stand comes as the consultation period on the possible cuts, which could see a number of routes around the town cut, ended on Friday after receiving a record 8,500 responses.

Pershore mayor councillor Charles Tucker is among those who has been campaigning to save the buses. At a meeting of Worcestershire County Council on Thursday he handed in a petition signed by more than 1,200 people against the cuts.

He said: "It doesn't stop there, there are more petitions coming in which will be sent to the council. The town council decided to take this on as a town issue. It is so important to the older people who otherwise will be isolated in their homes.

"Of course the campaign doesn't stop here, there's more to be done. There are other activities that are being prepared that will hopefully raise the profile of the issue before it comes to the county council."

Wick residents Brian and Marie Johnson-Thomas and Phil Ralls, of Pershore, have also been involved in the campaign.

Mr Johnson-Thomas said: "In the area concerned about 20 per cent of the people don't have cars. This includes young people, young mums, working people and the elderly."

The possible cull of bus services was announced by Worcestershire County Council in October as part of a bid to save £98 million by 2017.

Routes at risk in the Vale include the 551 Evesham-Pershore-Worcester evening service – the county’s most expensive service, costing taxpayers £8.24 per passenger.

The 382 Worcester-Eckington-Pershore First Bus evening service could be set for the chop, along with the 540 Evesham-Tewkesbury/Cheltenham route, the 551 Evesham Town service, and the 564-6 Wychavon Hopper and Pershore town service which was used by 52,480 people last year.

There is also the 375 Pershore-Tewkesbury on a Wednesday, the 566 Plum Line service, the 581 and 582 on Saturdays and the R4 from Willersey-Broadway-Evesham early morning service Monday to Saturday.

Coun John Smith, county cabinet member for highways, said: "The financial challenge we face as an authority means a number of tough choices need to be made when it comes to how taxpayers' money is spent. This is one such issue."

County council cabinet members will discuss a report based on the consultation at its meeting on Thursday, February 6, although no decisions about the routes affected will be made immediately.