RESIDENTS are in fear of losing their jobs due to inadequate bus services making them late for work, a councillor has claimed.

Councillor Jan Cossins told a full meeting of Darlington Borough Council on Thursday that youngsters relying on the town's buses were having to set off for a work more than an hour before their start time for a journey that should only take 20 minutes.

She also urged council leader Heather Scott to raise the issue with her counterparts in the cabinet of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), saying they "should be focusing less on an airport and more on delivering a better bus service".

Cllr Cossins said: "The young people are not getting to work on time and are worried about losing their job.

"They are leaving the house more than one hour early for what should be a 20 minute journey.

"It is not acceptable – people should be able to rely on the bus service to get to work and school when they need to in a reasonable time.

"More people might use the buses and not use the car, which would also reduce congestion in the town."

The Northern Echo:

In response, Cllr Scott said: "I want to assure you that buses are one of main issues, especially in rural areas.

"All TVCA leaders agree that bus services need to be looked at."

A spokesperson for TVCA said: “We're spending more on trains than we are on planes, and rightly so."

Earlier this week, TVCA revealed an 'uber'-style bus network could be launched in Darlington and Teesside to ease transport woes in more rural areas.

Original plans to franchise the region's bus network, giving civic leaders more of a say over bus rates, are expected to be shelved at a meeting next week, and instead an 'enhanced partnership' is planned with bus services.

However, funding for 'demand-responsive transport' is on the agenda, to offer rural areas and villages the chance to use mobile technology to order buses.

A £150,000 sum was pumped into looking at bus franchising in the Tees Valley last year.

This is the model used in London, where Mayor Sadiq Khan decides the routes, timetables and fares on offer and then puts them out to tender.

But TVCA reports estimate it would cost £4m to get the project going on Teesside – and two or three years to start it up.

Labour MPs Paul Williams and Alex Cunningham have previously criticised Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen for failing to use powers at his disposal to sort out transport problems for those in rural areas such as east Cleveland.