WORCESTERSHIRE is one of the worst hit areas of the entire country for bus cuts, according to shock new findings.

Research from a national campaign group has placed the county among six different parts of the UK suffering the most devastating impact from plans to splash funding for public transport.

The Rural Services Network says Worcestershire, Cumbria, Dorset, Essex, North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire will be worst affected by council cuts.

In September the county council is reducing a yearly £3 million buses funding pot to just £1.1 million, placing scores of services at risk of the chop.

The network, which campaigns for better rural public services, says it will have a terrible impact.

Cecilia Motley, chairman of the body, said: "Buses play a vital role in rural communities - especially for residents who do not have a car or other available transport.

"The historic unfair funding of rural councils by government means the impact of the recent and future budget cuts on rural councils is felt far greater than in other areas, as services started from a lower starting point.

"The impact of any cutbacks is likely to be greatest in 'shire counties' and there is likely to be a significant adverse impact on the operation of services in rural areas.

"Once bus routes are lost they are often gone forever.

"It can be very difficult, sometimes impossible, to restore routes in the future even if finances improve."

The findings were compiled with the help of the Local Government Association.

The county council has to cut around £99 million from budgets by 2019 in response to unpredecented reductions in Government grants.

It has defended the buses decision, saying the enture £3 million public transport subsidy was under threat before 8,500 people got involved in a public consultation.

The cash funds around 90 routes, including swathes of weekends and evening pick-ups in the county.

Keeping a subsidy of around £1.1 million will allow for some of the most critical routes to be saved.

A county council spokesman said: "On February 6 the council's cabinet agreed to take more time to consider the issue of bus subsidy funding following a consultation that generated 8,500 responses.

"We've consistently said that due to the financial challenges there's no easy answers when it comes tough issues like this but, importantly, we stressed the public's views would be taken into account, which is what is happening."

Negotiations are ongoing with bus operators.