WYCHAVON district councillors have been accused of treating Vale pensioners as a 'political football' after rejecting plans to reintroduce concessionary travel tokens.

The proposal to restart the subsidised transport scheme, scrapped last February to the outrage of OAPs, was rejected by a majority of almost three to one.

Liberal Democrat councillors claimed the reintroduction could be financed by savings made from stopping the programme as part of cuts in last year's budget.

Councillor Margaret Rowley, speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, said: "One of the ways the pensioners have been hit is by this council last year when they cut the concessionary fares and simultaneously increased the car parking charges."

Cllr Liz Tucker added: "We've been told of the way last year's cut has limited the options of people, and cases of genuine hardship and reduced quality of life. The government bus pass system is excellent if there is a good bus service. It makes a very big difference to your life if you aren't able to go out, catch a bus and do something."

But Conservative Cllr Malcolm Meikle said: "The number of people who want to use a bus in Wychavon is pretty low compared to other communities. It's not just a question of there not being any buses. I find it unbelievable the only solution is to put the money back in the pot."

Fred Kaler, chairman of the Evesham and District Pensioners' Association, criticised the council for failing to improve the area's transport system.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "I'm quite angry about this. The elderly people in Wychavon are being used as a political football.

"The council took the tokens away and offered people bus passes, but in many places transport is inadequate.

"I was hoping they would use the savings for the benefit of the elderly and young people in the area, by investing in a transport system for the community."