BUS users are worried about possible cuts in services following the announcement by Arriva North-East that it will close its Stokesley depot in February.

The firm says all activities will be relocated to its Redcar depot and it is hopeful that the 39 workers affected will be redeployed.

Steve Noble, managing director at Arriva, said: "The depot in Redcar has recently been redeveloped and has spare capacity. All employees have been informed of the closure date and we will be discussing redeployment opportunities with them individually."

Of the 39 Arriva employees at Stokesley, 34 are drivers, three are cleaners and there is one fitter and one supervisor.

The announcement has led to concern that bus services between Redcar and Guisborough could be affected.

County Coun Caroline Seymour said a number of concerned bus users had contacted her to express their fear of service cuts.

She said: "A lot of workers and students rely on these buses and I am very concerned about the effect the closure is going to have on them.

"Buses currently come into the depot in the evening and park up overnight, so they are there to leave first thing in the morning. I am concerned that when the depot closes the buses will not be in the right place to provide these services."

She added that the county council was seeking an immediate meeting with Arriva to find out what its plans were and to see what the council could do to help.

The leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council also called for Arriva to guarantee services linking Redcar and Guisborough.

Coun David Walsh said: "The 81service is pretty meagre as it is. One bus an hour between the borough's two main towns is hardly an advert for public transport."

He said alarm bells rang when he heard the Stokesley depot was to the close.

"Arriva has cut buses on this route before, with the result that in the last couple of years we have had to subsidise a large number of runs on the 81 route and now nearly every service on an evening and a Sunday runs courtesy of our council."

He added: "I want Arriva to make it clear what its intentions are on this route.

"Our council has constantly had to pick up the tab for past cuts by Arriva, and I, for one, am getting fed up with this."

Arriva said services between Redcar and Guisborough would be unaffected by closure of the Stokesley depot. A spokeswoman said the No 81 service would continue to start from Stokesley, even though the buses would be based in Redcar.

* The Stokesley depot is next to a proposed £2.5m sheltered housing and library scheme. Among the objections raised to the scheme had been traffic congestion around the bus depot