A HAMPSHIRE MP has demanded a Government investigation into the bitter bus wars that saw more than 100 services axed.

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne, above, has written to the Office of Fair Trading to probe what he believes to be the “predatory”

behaviour by public transport giant Bluestar against smaller family-run rival Black Velvet.

He fears that this latest clash over the busy Eastleigh to Fair Oak service, which has cost passengers more than 100 journeys, could be adopted by other firms across the country if no action is taken.

The smaller firm launched the Fair Oak Flyer earlier this year, running 55 trips per day. However, Black Velvet claimed the service soon became unviable when Bluestar upped its own number 2 shuttle service, making 50 journeys a day, swamping the area.

When Black Velvet decided it had no choice but to pull out of the area, its competitor announced their plans to pull the plug on its own service.

Just months earlier the same thing happened when Black Velvet started to run a service through Velmore and Chilworth, only to be squeezed out by a new Bluestar Beep service, running three minutes ahead.

Both companies dropped the route within weeks of each other.

Mr Huhne has complained to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) asking them to investigate the transport giant’s moves to act as a spoiler to stop Black Velvet from operating.

He said: “Local bus passengers have suffered from the withdrawal of the improved bus services following the anticompetitive behaviour of Bluestar.

“This is likely predatory behaviour from a subsidiary of one of the largest bus companies in the country, and if they are allowed to get away with it inEastleigh, it could become a pattern.

“There is a substantial public interest in an urgent investigation because Bluestar is a subsidiary of Go-ahead, one of Britain’s biggest bus companies and Eastleigh could become a model for similar tactics elsewhere if not checked quickly.”

Bluestar boss Andrew Wickham denied Mr Huhne’s allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and has requested a meeting with the MP, which will take place in August.

He said: “We are committed to acting fairly in the market place.We have a competition compliance programme in place, and believe that there is no substance in the allegations made.”