Planned bus cuts by Stagecoach are “at best hypocritical” a council chief executive has said.

Stephen Moir, chief executive at Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), said he “forcefully” expressed concerns at a meeting with the bus company’s bosses.

Stagecoach announced earlier this month that it planned to cut 18 services across the county.

At a meeting of CCC’s strategy and resources committee on September 30, Mr Moir said he and senior officers and members of local authorities in the county were recently invited by Stagecoach to a meeting where the company outlined the changes to services it wanted to make.

Prior to this, managing director at Stagecoach East, Darren Roe, said: "We care about our local communities, and we know how important public transport is to local people."

He said the "harsh reality" is that in many rural areas, the gap between costs and fare income is accelerating and that the routes had been on "life support" for many years.

"It's clear the traditional field fixed route bus service is no longer a financially viable solution in these rural areas in parts of Cambridgeshire," he said.

"Not only is it becoming unviable, but it also threatens the long-term sustainability of the wider bus network and the investment we're making in new electric buses."

Mr Moir said he wanted to make public the statements he made to the managing director at Stagecoach East at the meeting.

He said: “First of all I think it is fair to say that the approach being taken by Stagecoach to the provision of service to this county and frankly across the East of England, is probably at best hypocritical.

“Instead of closing the inequality gap, they are widening it.”

He added: “I have to say I find their position of having comment from their group functions somewhat contradictory to say the least with the actions they are taking across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

"They say they are in a good financial position, are recovering well with good customer demand, and that they continue to espouse good value public transport services while helping their customers shift from car to bus use."

CAPCA is undertaking a re-tendering process for the routes planned to be cut and Mr Moir said he had been told the responses were “positive so far”.

Cllr Chris Boden proposed an amendment at the meeting asking for the committee to allocate £1.7million from the post pandemic recovery budgeting account, to be combined with the same amount being contributed by the CAPCA towards funding replacement bus services.

The amendment also called for the chief executive to write to the Greater Cambridge Partnership to ask it to contribute £1.7million as well.

Leader of CCC, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, said the proposals were asking for a specific amount of money to be taken out of the authority’s reserves, before it was known how much money would be needed.

She said: “I am keen that we take away from this debate a united vision that we all agree on the key importance of our bus services and the need for a long term reliable public transport system for our area.

“It is good to know there is absolute unanimity in this room about just how important bus services are.”

When put to a vote a majority of councillors voted against the amendment.