A PETITION has been launched to stop cuts to bus services in Guiseley and Otley.

The petition, set up by local residents, has been signed by more than 900 people who are worried about reductions in the frequency of the 33 service to Guiseley and the 34 service to Otley.

The changes, which come into force on December 8, are also being opposed by Aireborough Civic Society. The society's chairman Clive Woods described the development as "bad news in our fight against pollution and congestion."

In a statement this week the civic society said: "Aireborough Civic Society is extremely disappointed that First Bus has decided to reduce the frequency of Service 33 to Guiseley and Service 34 to Otley from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes. When a bus is cancelled - which happens very frequently- that means waiting for a whole hour."

It adds: "Bus service cuts next week make a mockery of the Leeds Bus Partnership. The Leeds target to double bus passenger numbers between 2016 and 2026 cannot be achieved by such cuts. It is obvious that it will lead to even fewer bus passengers and even more cars on our already congested roads.

"The partnership of bus companies, Leeds City Council and the Transport Authority is supposed to be working together to reduce congestion and pollution by improving public transport. It is clearly failing.

"Car users may think this doesn’t affect them, but the more bus passengers who decide to ditch the bus, the worse all journeys become. The effect in other areas such as Kirkstall and Burley with ever more commuter cars on local roads is unacceptable and the effect on emergency services is extremely worrying."

Mr Woods said: "Before cutting bus services, First should be persuading Leeds City Council of the need to put in bus lanes on our congested roads. Unfortunately we have no evidence that they are doing that."

The civic society is urging people to sign the petition, which can be found on the Aireborough Voice facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/aireborough.voice/ or at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/retain-and-improve-first-leeds-services-33-34.

Guiseley resident Eleanor Thomson who set up the petition said the cuts were a significant cause for concern for local people.

She said: "With the new times, due to start next week, there is a huge gap in morning 33 services from Guiseley/Yeadon to Leeds. At present there are buses scheduled at 6.26, 6.53 and 7.17, but the 6.53 will be cut, leaving almost an hour with no bus. There is no alternative service from the Westfield estate and Nether Yeadon and it is a substantial walk to catch a different bus.

"For some residents, this will limit access to work, education and health care, as well as social activities, friends and family. They link our communities to Wharfedale Hospital, three or more secondary schools, Yeadon health centre, Leeds city centre and much more."

Responding to the criticisms from Otley and Yeadon councillors, First West Yorkshire’s Commercial Director Martin Hirst said: “We monitor and review the bus network on an ongoing basis to make best use of resources to meet customer demand and to improve service punctuality.

“We receive regular feedback from customers about inconsistent punctuality on the X84. I’m pleased to confirm we are introducing a revised timetable on this Leeds-Otley/Ilkley service on December 8 to improve punctuality for customers at peak times. From December 8 we are also revising the 33/34 in the Guiseley and Otley area to better reflect customer demand.

“The revised 34 service daytime pattern will mean two buses per hour between Otley and Leeds and two buses per hour between Yeadon and Leeds.

“The daytime service 33 will provide two buses per hour between Guiseley and Leeds.

“As part of this review of frequency, we have also revised the timetable to improve journey punctuality. We will continue to provide a common daytime frequency of six buses per hour between Leeds and Rawdon Crossroads.We will monitor changes and continue to review customer comments.”