CUTS to bus services in a rural part of South Cumbria have sparked a wave of concern, particularly in Levens which could be effectively cut off from the public transport network.

Bus company Stagecoach has announced that from October 27, they will be withdrawing their 552 service from Arnside to Kendal via Milnthorpe and Hincaster, and also the 530 from Cartmel to Kendal via Levens.

"This is as a direct result of losing two school contracts with Cumbria County Council who have awarded the contracts to another operator," said a Stagecoach spokesperson.

"Regretfully without the school contracts the one round trip to Kendal on Service 530 and two round trips on Service 552 are no longer viable for us to operate.

"We are pleased that a number of the journeys made along these routes are still available on alternative services, including Milnthorpe to Kendal on the 555 Service and journeys to Lindale and Grange via the X6 Service.

"Despite considerable effort to work with Cumbria County Council to find a solution for these services to continue we are disappointed we are needing to withdraw these journeys."

A Cumbria County Council spokesperson confirmed the body was no longer able to subsidise bus routes.

“The county council has not subsidised bus services since 2014/15 due to funding cuts as a result of the Government’s austerity programme," said the spokesperson.

"Bus services in Cumbria are now run on a purely commercial basis – where there is demand and where operators can run a sustainable service, they will run.”

But MP Tim Farron has hit out at the news which he blamed squarely on cuts which he said had seen local authority budgets slashed by 40 per cent since 2010.

“Once again we are seeing Conservative cuts leading to communities in the South Lakes being abandoned," said the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP.

“After being starved of funding by the Government, local councils have to make the decision between subsidising bus services and spending money on adult social care.

“If the Conservatives genuinely cared about not leaving local communities stranded, it would stop the cuts to councils today."

Mr Farron said the preserving of the 530 service was an absolute priority as Levens would be completely without bus services if this plan went ahead.

He also suggested the re-routing of the 555 service through Levens as a partial solution to the problems caused by the proposed cuts.

Cllr Kevin Holmes, who lives in Levens and represents the area on South Lakeland District Council, said the news had caused considerable concern in the village.

"The matter has been discussed at the last parish council meeting in Levens," he said.

"It is especially worrying as there are a lot of elderly people in the village and in the area in general."

Cllr Holmes said efforts to address the problem were ongoing.