PENSIONERS fear they are about lose their 'lifeline' bus to hospital.

Elderly residents of the St James Estate and Pothouse area of Darwen along with those in Hoddlesden village have been alarmed that operator Moving People plans to discontinue the 33 service.

The Oswaldtwistle-based firm took over the route which includes the Royal Blackburn Hospital last year after the collapse of Darwen Coach Services.

It has given notice to Blackburn with Darwen Council it intends to stop operating the 33, which has been running at a loss, on June 9.

The news has dismayed the dozens of pensioners who use the service to get the the hospital and Blackburn and Darwen town centres.

Sudell Liberal Democrat Cllr Roy Davies and East Rural Conservative Cllr Julie Slater are urging the borough council to save the 33, subsidising it if necessary.

Blackburn with Darwen Council transport boss Philip Riley said: "We are ware of the issue and doing all we can to find another operator to take over the 33 route.

"We do not have any money to subsidise bus services except for school journeys."

Cllr Davies said: "The borough council must find a way to save this service.

"It is a lifeline to the hospital for many pensioners from the St James Estate and Pothouse who cannot afford taxis ."

Cllr Slater said: "The council should find the money to keep the 33 running and extend it to the villages of Eccleshill and Waterside where there are no buses. It is a vital link for many elderly people to the hospital."

Andy Parry, operations director of Moving People, said: "We have given it a good go running it for more than 12 months but we cannot afford to continue to run the service at a loss."

Talks between the council and Blackburn Private Hire about taking over the 33 have broken down.