CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Rossendale’s home-grown bus company have protested outside the borough’s town hall.

The protest was planned to coincide with the annual council meeting, where the mayor for 2009/10, Coun Joyce Thorne, was elected.

The majority of borough councillors and a host of local dignitaries attended the event, with protestors looking for maximum exposure.

Transport bosses have insisted they are only ‘testing the water’ as they consider options for Rossendale Transport, based in Haslingden.

But campaigners have urged bus users to lobby their councillors after a staff meeting over speculation that the company, which employs around 200 people, could be sold to a larger conglomerate.

A campaign spokesman said: “The underlying message is that Rossendale Transport will be most likely sold in the near future which could result in over 200 job losses, depending on who was to purchase the company.

“It could also result in many bus services being cut down or even withdrawn, including the Cou-nty Rider Service.

“If you feel strongly about this then please lobby a Rossendale borough councillors because ultimately they will have the final decision.”

A motion has been submitted in Parliament to try and stop any sell off of the bus company.

The other two firms operating in the valley – French-owned Transdev and Nelson-based Tyrer Buses – are both in private hands.

The Rossendale company, formerly based in Rawtenstall, is one of the few remaining bus operators run by a local authority.