A bus service connecting villages to Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds is set to be reduced.

The 384/385 service connects the villages of Old Newton, Haughley, Wetherden, Elmswell, Woolpit, Tostock, Norton, Beyton, Thurston and Moreton Hall to Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds.

However, from September 5 the service will be reduced and only run during school days.

Operator Stephensons has cited costs and viability as the reason for the reduction.

Resident and service user David Flannigan said: "We will be isolated in our area. We’re not happy about it because people can’t get to their doctors or hospital appointments."

Mr Flannigan also said it was a concern that people would not be able to get to work and that the service "means a lot to us".

Managing director of Stephensons, Bill Hiron said: "Post-Covid usage of the service has fallen dramatically, and is heavily supported by the carriage of students at peak times.

"During school holidays and on Saturdays these movements (and the associated revenue) don’t exist, and with increases in fuel, wages, and every other cost, the service on these days is barely covering its wage costs, let alone fuel, maintenance, insurance etc.

"We did discuss the proposed withdrawal during school holidays with Suffolk County Council to see if they wished to provide funding for its continuation, but they were unable to do so.

"Consequently 384/5 will only run on schooldays from September."

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said previous timetable changes had been made by Stephensons to ensure services operated on a commercially viable basis. It is Stephensons that is now reducing the service to run on schooldays only.

The spokesperson said: “We appreciate that this may disadvantage those who want to use the bus on Saturdays or in the school holidays; however, this is a commercial decision that has been taken by the operator.

“Our budgetary position is that it is already fully committed and we are not able to provide extra funding for the current service level to be maintained.

“Passenger numbers have still not recovered to pre-Covid levels, and are not predicted to do so for at least another year. This is a very difficult time for the bus industry and we will continue to assist operators wherever possible.”