BUS services in and around Pershore will see major changes from next month as part of a package of improvements introduced on First Midland Red routes.

The new services - due to start on Monday, October 16 - have been introduced following talks between First and the Vale Public Transport Group, which has welcomed the changes.

Among the main improvements are:

* Saturday services to Pershore and Worcester restored for the Vale villages of Eckington, Defford, Wadborough and Birlingham, and off-peak weekday morning services improved;

* Revived off-peak services from Fladbury to Evesham, Pershore and Worcester;

* Restored off-peak through services from Pinvin, Wyre and Lower Moor to Evesham;

* Hourly service from Norton and Littleworth through most of the day to Worcester and Pershore with alternate services extended through to Evesham.

The new village buses will complement the existing and popular fast limited stop hourly X50 service linking Worcester, Pershore and Evesham and, with new routes and service numbers, the services will be marketed under the name The Fifties.

Transport group chairman Julian Palfrey said: "The changes will offer many new opportunities for shopping and leisure journeys and help reduce the effects of rural isolation felt by many following bus service reductions in county council budget cutbacks two years ago.

"It is now vital that local people use their new services to help build the case for further improvements."

The group is now working closely with First in a major promotional and marketing campaign to publicise the new services with support from county councillor Liz Tucker.

She said: "My congratulations to the Vale Public Transport Group for the detailed work they have put in to getting these services restored for our villages and particularly the through routes to Evesham and Worcester.

"It was devastating for local passengers when these were cut last year. Please remember those who rely on the bus to get around and support these new services."