DORSET County Council is to go back out to tender for a key bus service between Blandford and Dorchester.

In May, the county council announced the award of new contracts to run Dorset’s subsidised public and transport services following a major procurement process.

It saw the number of subsidised bus services drop from 35 to seven, as the cash-strapped council tried to make savings of £1.85m.

One of these routes, the X12/187 service between Blandford and Dorchester, was awarded to First Hampshire and Dorset.

However, prior to the new public services starting today (Monday), a technical inconsistency was highlighted in the way the council had assessed the tenders for this contract.

As a result, the council contacted First and other companies to say it was withdrawing the contract and will re-run the tender process over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the current operator, Go South Coast (Damory), has agreed to continue to run the existing X12/187 service on the same timetable until the new contract has been awarded.

Cllr Daryl Turner, the county council’s Cabinet member for natural and built environment, said: "While this delay in awarding the new contract is regrettable, the decision to withdraw and re-tender it is the right one to make sure it fully meets all requirements."

As part of the re-tendering process DCC has awarded new contracts for bus services to 13 secondary schools as well.

Go South Coast (Damory) will service The Blandford School, Ferndown Upper School and Queen Elizabeth’s School in Wimborne, Lytchett Minster School and Purbeck School in Wareham and Thomas Hardy’s School, Dorchester.

South West Coaches will service Gillingham School and Gryphon School, Sherborne.

And Sturminster Newton High School will be serviced by Vale Coaches.