VILLAGERS have been left ‘stranded’ and shocked after a number of bus services were withdrawn without warning.

Residents of Ilton, Ashill and Ilminster have all been abandoned since a number of services stopped running two weeks ago.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said they stepped in and have taken back several routes after an operator was struggling with a driver shortage.

However, Nippy Bus has also withdrawn the commercial number 10 bus between Taunton and Ilminster, travelling via a number of villages, and say it has been taken over by another provider.

Dave Amor, from Ilton, said: “You have now got to decide if you are going to be ill the day before. People have been left stranded, really. There were children just left abandoned.”

Councillor Linda Piggott-Vijeh, county councillor for the Ilminster ward, said: “What concerns me is it is the most vulnerable who will be most affected, those attending hospital appointments, for example.

“I do not believe at this stage due consideration is given to the absence of appropriate public transport when planning decisions are made.

“I have seen the impact of this in a number of rural communities, notably Broadway, where in recent years there has been a significant amount of development.”

Colin Bailey, an Ilminster resident who regularly travelled on the number 10 bus, said he “feels abandoned.”

He said: “Its loss is of profound importance to those living in Ilton, Ashill and Hatch Beauchamp who rely on it to get to Taunton, and who are not serviced by First Group 30.

“The village people have lost out on a bus service and that is their only one. These buses used to be absolutely chock-full.

“Last week, that 30 bus came from Chard full up and a lot of people were just left standing. Basically, we feel we have been abandoned.”

A spokesman for Somerset County Council: “We have again stepped in at short notice to pick up routes when there have been issues with the operator.

"School and college services have been picked up on any emergency basis and have continued unaffected, with permanent contracts currently being tendered.

“An alternative demand responsive service has been changed to meet the local need as far as possible.

“We have done everything we can to minimise the impact, but we are not in the financial position to subsidise additional commercial routes.”