MORE than 1,100 people have signed a protest petition against moves to slash bus services in the Chandler's Ford and Hiltingbury area.

The Save Our Buses petition calls on Hampshire County Council and Solent Blue Line to work together to keep a regular daily bus service throughout the area.

Martin Tod, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Winchester and Chandler's Ford, handed over the petition to bus chiefs who had called a meeting to explain to community representatives the reasons behind the new timetable, which is due to switch into gear on February 24.

Red Rocket buses are being replaced by Bluestar buses.

Bus chiefs have been quick to allay fears about services in the Chandler's Ford and Hiltingbury area, and have made it clear that no one will be stranded.

Mr Tod said that he was heartened by news that the proposed new services would include buses going to Hiltingbury, connecting with Valley Park, Sutherlands Court and Asda.

He said that the frequency of services had to be discussed but he was confident that there would be a good result.

He said: "I'm pleased that Solent Blue Line has listened to what local people have been saying.

"Provided the county council commits to the proposed plan next week and we get the right number of buses on the routes Solent Blue Line told us about today, it's good news."

Solent Blue Line's operations director Andrew Wickham said that cutting services was always a last resort.

He said: "We are facing harsh economic facts. Costs are going up all the time and fuel prices have more than doubled in the last few years."