AT least four bus services across the area will be axed in the New Year, it has emerged, leaving some communities with little or no provision at all as a result.

Slough Borough Council (SBC) says the cuts planned by First Group will have a 'massive and detrimental effect' on residents and businesses.

It is in talks with a number of other bus operators to encourage them to take on the earmarked services. The cuts are set for January 20, SBC has said, but First is yet to confirm this. However as exclusively reported by The Observer last week, the latest development comes just days after a hike in bus fares which has seen some tickets rocket up in price - and the removal of some stops as part of route changes.

SBC says its priority is Service 5, which runs between Slough and Cippenham, amid concerns there will be no other services that stop in the village or Cippenham Green when it goes in January.

Other services set for the chop are: Service 2 between Slough and Dedworth via Windsor and Clewer; Service 10/11 between Slough and Heathrow Airport via Datchet and Wraysbury; And Service 15 between Slough and Eton Wick via Eton.

Additional services will see a cut in their frequency and revised timetables, SBC said, including the Service 4 between Slough and Maidenhead via the Bath Road.

Councillor Martin Carter, cabinet member for planning and transport, said: “We are acutely aware that the changes recently made by First Berkshire, and those that will take place in January, have a massive and detrimental effect on the residents and businesses of Slough and its surrounding areas.

“Large numbers of our residents and businesses rely on public transport on a daily basis to make their journeys around the borough and to surrounding areas, including Heathrow airport. Without these services people will be left effectively cut off. The council has acted immediately and hopes to secure an operator who is able to take on one or more of these services, enabling people to continue to use public transport to reach their desired locations.”

An SBC spokesperson said negotiations were ongoing and the authority would provide further updates in the coming weeks.

Separately a source told The Observer that First had been looking to councils, including the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, to further subsidise some of the services that run in their areas. He said where this did not happen, it made cuts more likely.

First Group was not available for comment as this story went live.

Royal Borough Councillor Samantha Rayner, who is the portfolio holder for transport, said on Facebook that her authority was 'looking at ways to deliver' Service 15 with another provider.

For more developments, pick up a copy of The Observer newspaper this coming Friday, December 8.