COUNTY leaders have said they are happy to work with parish councils in the bid to save a vital bus route in Hampshire.

Leaders from Hampshire County Council are set to debate the bus subsidy budget next month, with a full decision taken on February 22.

The council has said that it is pleased to be working with parish councils and ‘other interested parties’ wanting to support public transport.

It comes after the Stagecoach service number 46 bus, that runs between North Baddesley and Winchester, came under threat as a result of proposed cuts from the council.

Despite the looming closure, Baddesley councillor Alan Dowden embarked on a mission to save the service by getting various parish councils to set aside extra funding to save the service.

Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport at the county council, said: “Until we have a decision on the subsidy budget, I cannot comment on any specific individual route as we would undertake public consultation on how any reduction in bus subsidies should be applied.

“Until this decision has been made, we will not be in a position to consider specific routes.

“We are, as always, pleased to work with parish councils and other interested parties wanting to support public transport in Hampshire.”

As previously reported, both North Baddesley and Valley Park parish councils have each agreed to help fund the service by increasing their council tax precepts by £3,000.

Cllr Dowden said he ‘had done all he can’ to keep the service running.

He said: “Ampfield Parish Council have agreed to place it on their February agenda.

“The county council are, during this difficult budgetary situation, clearly seeking help from the parish councils and because it will only be the public who will suffer if services are withdrawn, I have managed to encourage some parish councils to support financially in order to maintain this essential bus service.

“If the 46 bus service were to be withdrawn, it would leave many totally isolated. I have done everything I can to keep this service running.”

The route needs an additional £40,000 to keep running, as the cuts have been proposed by Hampshire County Council in order to save £140 million.

Chandler’s Ford Parish Council said that it would be taking the proposals through to committee and full council when they had all the relevant information before deciding whether to back Cllr Dowden’s plan.