BUS services across Dorset will be drastically reduced unless the government takes action, warns South Dorset MP Richard Drax.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he asked for the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) to continue beyond 2017 to ensure residents in remote parts of Dorset have a service.

The BSOG enables bus operators to claim back fuel duty from the government so that they are able to continue rural bus services on which they make a loss.

But the funding source has only been ringfenced until 2017, and ‘operators in south Dorset are warning that further cuts will lead to service reductions right across the bus network’.

Mr Drax asked whether ‘governments of all colours have a duty to preserve some form of service – preferably, as many of my colleagues have suggested, a better-integrated service, but at least a service – to support those who live in rural areas?’ He said rural bus services provide a ‘genuine lifeline for many’ and ‘we must do all we can to protect them’.

Mr Drax added: “May I ask the government to consider a fairer way of sharing the financial burden of concessionary travel across the United Kingdom?”

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, Simon Bowkett, said: “While I welcome Mr Drax’s apparent concern, I would urge him to move away from gesture politics in Westmin-ster and use his platform to bring real change right here in Dorset.”