A "VITAL" bus route has been saved – at least for an extra 12 months.

The number 46 bus that runs between North Baddesley and Winchester had been under threat as a result of proposed cuts to transport and environmental services by Hampshire County Council.

As previously reported, Baddesley councillor Alan Dowden had also been battling to save the Stagecoach service, with HCC proposing the cuts in order to save £140 million.

Last month, transport bosses at the county authority met with the leaders of Stagecoach, First Hampshire and Go South Coast to figure out how to keep as many services running as possible going forward.

Stagecoach had warned the county council to "think again" after they proposed the cutbacks.

Now, HCC have said that the service will be safe for another 12 months, when it will then be looked at again along with other bus services on a longer-term basis.

Cllr Dowden had set about securing £40,000 needed to save the service on its own by asking councils which the route went through, for contributions.

He had secured £6,000 and plans to keep going in a bid to secure the long-term future of the route, but welcomed the news over its immediate future.

Cllr Dowden said: "It's great news for the community that it's safe for the time being. I won't stop working to secure the funding it needs as it is vital for everyone involved.

"Some councils have said they won't contribute, which surprises me but everyone is under strain financially.

"I believe for the next 12 months it is safe but then the council will look at it – along with others of course, on a three-year plan.

"I hope they see how important it is for communities as it avoids isolation for many."

Hampshire County Council's executive member for environment and transport, Rob Humby, said: "We know a reduction in services would raise concerns across the county. Therefore, I was pleased to be able to get together with the leaders of Hampshire's bus industry to see what we could do between us to maintain the levels of public transport service.

"Together with the operators, we've invested in new infrastructure. By making bus travel more comfortable, reliable and attractive, we've worked hard to encourage more bus passengers which means that services have a better chance of operating independent of public subsidy, into the future."

The announcement comes as the council aim to save £140 million by April 2019 due to the end of the government revenue support grant, and finalised the plans following the budget approval at the end of February.