A BUS firm has announced yet more service cuts in Weymouth and west Dorset in a devastating blow for communities.

First Wessex is scrapping service 5 from Weymouth which serves Osmington, Crossways, Broadmayne and Dorchester, and the X52 'Jurassic Coaster' from Lyme Regis to Exeter.

Service 10 Weymouth-Dorchester is also being reduced from five to four buses an hour, but is being extended to include a new stop in Poundbury.

The new changes, effective from January, follow a round of recently-introduced service cuts plus a fares increase.

County councillor Nick Ireland who represents areas served by the number 5 bus, said: "As the county councillor for most of those affected, both I and the rest of the Lib Dem group at DCC will doing everything possible to ensure that a subsidised replacement that meets the needs of all the residents is put into operation to ensure a continuance of service."

First introduced its winter timetable last week and with it a range of savage cuts to services.

This includes withdrawing Sunday services from service 3 (Westham) and service 8 (Chickerell). Buses on these routes have reduced to every 30 minutes Monday-Saturday ending earlier.

Service 4 (Preston) has also lost its Sunday service and Sunday services from Dorchester to Bridport (X51) and Weymouth to Bridport (X53) have also been withdrawn.

Last week, most adult single and child return fares increased by 50p across the First bus network in Dorset.

First Wessex said the new service changes will come into effect on Sunday, January 21.

This will see route 5 and the X52 withdrawn. Route 10 (Weymouth, Dorchester, Poundbury) will be retimed and extended.

The firm said it had consulted Dorset County Council and Devon County Council about routes 5 and X52, and said the authorities would be "looking to provide an alternative option for these passengers".

Service 10 will be retimed to provide four buses an hour between Weymouth, Dorchester and Poundbury. This change is being introduced to offer "improved punctuality and ensure the timetable is robust".

After listening to feedback from passengers, route 10 will also be extended to serve Peverell Avenue West in Poundbury.

A First Wessex spokesman said: “Regrettably, we can no longer operate routes 5 and X52 due to the challenging financial strains our business is currently facing. Like most operators in the UK, financial support from local authorities is very limited and both routes were operated on a commercial basis. Unfortunately, the levels of patronage have been well below what is required to ensure it’s sustainable."

The spokesman added: “The decision to alter the frequency for route 10 has been made after monitoring service over the last few months. We feel that by running a service every 15 minutes provides ample travel opportunities, whilst ensuring it is much more punctual. What’s more, we’ve responded to customer feedback and will deliver an extended route for the residents of Poundbury.”