CONTROVERSIAL rules that stopped hundreds of disabled bus passengers travelling free before 9.30am look set to be reversed.

Reading borough transport leader Tony Page told Tuesday's council meeting the ruling Labour group is committed to reinstating the concession - axed in April by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition administration -for the disabled and their carers.

But Cllr Page said it might not be possible to bring back free travel for pensioners because of cost , and added: "The previous administration introduced these changes in a mean-minded and ham-fisted fashion, with many senior citizens and disabled pass holders not receiving formal notification of these changes until well after April 1."

The council cabinet will make its final decision at a meeting on Monday, July 11, after receiving a petition from the Reading Save Our Services (SOS) campaign group calling for the restrictions to be overturned.

SOS spokeswoman Kathryn Dixon said the strength of feeling had been overwhelming, and added: "Many saw it as unnecessary, hitting the vulnerable hardest."

Kathryn, who dismissed the £238,000 cut as "astonishing and vindictive", described the concession as a vital lifeline many people have relied on for years and said among the 3,500 affected were disabled people taking part in independent living courses and elderly hospital volunteers.

After presenting her petition to the council, Kathryn was greeted with a round of applause from Labour and Green councillors. She said afterwards: "Recognising it is only a partial victory. We will continue our campaign to reinstate full bus concessions for all who previously used and relied upon them."