ARRIVA North East was this week seeking to allay fears that bus services in East Cleveland will be affected by the closure of one of the company's depots.

Thirty-nine bus drivers and other workers at its Stokesley branch have been told their depot is to close in February.

In a statement issued on Monday, the company said it was working hard to ensure that employees will be redeployed elsewhere in the company, but said a guarantee of employment could not be given.

David Walsh, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, demanded reassurances that the Redcar to Guisborough route would be safe. He said: "The 81 service between Stokesley and Redcar, via Guisborough, is pretty meagre as it is. One bus an hour between the borough's two main towns, Guisborough and Redcar, is hardly an advert for public transport.

"I have to say that when I heard the Stokesley depot was to close, alarm bells rang. Arriva has cut buses on this route before with the result that in the past 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. 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."

Steve Noble, Arriva North East managing director, said services in Stokesley would be unchanged and all activities would be relocated to the Redcar depot.

He said: "The depot in Redcar has been recently 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. There is also one fitter and one supervisor.