COUNCILLORS who were accused of under-funding a vital bus service have demanded an apology from the town's bus company.

Reading Buses scrapped the 19a/c service and reissued a reduced 12 service after claiming Wokingham Borough Council had failed to offer enough cash.

Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses said cost pressures had caused the old route to become a 'loss-making' one, despite the council increasing its subsidy to nearly £150,000.

Conservative councillors have accused the company of 'muddled priorities' after demanding WBC pay an extra £100,000 for the popular service, while planning to give this exact figure to Reading Borough Council.

Keith Baker, Woodley councillor, said: “I am pleased the council have called for Reading Buses to apologise.

“I am glad my Conservative colleagues recognised that residents do not care about party politics and simply want a service that is fit for their purpose.”

Labour councillors made a motion at a Full Council meeting, suggesting the bus route had been reduced because WBC had not offered enough money, but the motion was amended.

Reading Chronicle: Cllr Keith Baker believes the council's reserves will be better spent on large town centre projects.

Cllr Baker added: “The original motion was incredibly misleading. It laid all the blame at the door of the council, when it is Reading Buses that reduced their funding.

“It was totally political and completely at odds with the requests for cross-party working from the Labour MP for Reading East.”

Campaigners have slammed Reading Buses since the 'Nineteens' were axed, claiming the new service is 'not fit for purpose' and has left many residents using taxis to get to Royal Berkshire Hospital.

A public meeting at The Oakwood Centre last month gave frustrated service users the chance to voice their concerns and an hourly service was proposed.

Mr Gilbert said: "Reading Buses is unable to sustain a loss-making position on a contract beyond its committed term.

"We have not asked for an increase in the contract price to make a profit during this period, only to cover our costs."

"We honoured that contract until its expiry, but it is not appropriate or fair for Reading's owned transport system to subsidise such services beyond the original contract term."