THE future of "vital" bus services is uncertain as a North-East bus firm folded on Monday.

Middlesbrough-based Stagecarriage, which ran service buses and private coach hire across Teesside, reportedly ceased trading on July 22.

Before its reported collapse, the firm operated bus services mainly serving Stillington village, Stockton, Thornaby, Teesside Park, Yarm, New Marske, Eston and Guisborough.

The firm also operated the "well-used" X8 service, which was seen as a "vital link" for residents in rural parts of the borough.

In a letter to the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, the Labour MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham raised his concern over the cancellation of the X8 service, calling on Mr Houchen to step in.

Mr Cunningham said: "The removal of this service is a massive blow to local people.

"Can you please tell me what, if anything, the Combined Authority will be doing to support these communities."

Stagecarriage's X8 operated between Stillington village and Middlesbrough, serving Carlton, Thorpe Thewles, Stockton's North Tees Hospital, Stockton High Street, Thornaby Railway Station and Teesside Park.

Mr Cunningham added: "Would the Tees Valley Combined Authority consider using available funding to provide a bus service, or support another company in running one.

"I know the Combined Authority announced plans for an "Uber-style" bus service for our area, but all of this is irrelevant if there are no buses serving more rural, and therefore less "profitable", routes."

The MP said communities previously served by the defunct firm, were already "suffering from a lack of infrastructure and facilities", while calling to keep affected residents "connected to the rest of Stockton and the wider Teesside area".

Responding, Mr Houchen said he would "work with the council" to explore plans.

He said: "Local councils are responsible for subsidising bus routes, not me. However I am very happy to work with the leader of Stockton Council to see what the Council can do to help this specific route into Stillington, Thorpe Thewles and Carlton."

Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said it was now approaching existing operators to see whether or not the service could be revived.

He said: "We are sorry to hear Stagecarriage have gone into administration and they have confirmed that the X8 service will no longer be operating.

We’re approaching other bus operators to gauge their interest in taking the service on.”

It is currently unclear how many employees have been affected by the company's closure.