RESIDENTS are protesting about buses in their village - because there are too many services.

While most communities are bemoaning buses being cut, people in Howden-le-Wear, which sits on the route between Crook and Bishop Auckland, County Durham, say they are being blighted by congestion, with the launch of a new service set to mean up to 20 buses passing through every hour.

This is in stark contrast to the situation in Bishop Middleham, also in County Durham, where one resident fears she may have to leave her job of 35 years because of difficulties in catching a bus.

Gail Hardy, 54, who has asthma and a heart condition, now has to take two buses to get to the builders merchants Jewson in Gilesgate, Durham, and even then she is over an hour late, while the return journey misses her village all together.

She said: "I am now in the stressful situation of having to beg lifts from friends, colleagues and family and don’t know how I am going to get to work from one day to the next."

Nigel Featham, managing director for Arriva North East, said the re-routing was due to low passenger numbers, increased fuel prices and a cut in fuel duty rebate.

Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, presented Parliament with a petition signed by 1,000 Bishop Middleham and Fishburn residents who are concerned about public transport cuts.

In Howden-le-Wear, which has a mini roundabout and two 90 degree turns in its centre for the buses to negotiate, the Arriva 1 and 1b services to Darlington, which start at Crook and Tow Law respectively, already passed through the village before Go North East started the OK1 service last week, which unlike the Arriva buses goes through West Auckland rather than Shildon.

Now Arriva have announced they will launch a third service covering the same route as the OK1, called the X1, which they promise to be 15 minutes quicker than their current lines.

Villagers say enough is enough.

Resident Peter Parnell: "Surely someone can see the madness of this, it’s not good for the village and while we welcome a good bus service, there is no need for so many that are effectively covering the same route."

Durham County Council said bus companies operate their own services and are responsible for their routes.

County councillor for the area John Bailey said the congestion in Howden-le-Wear is worsening as a result and said it was more important to ensure buses run when scheduled than have so many.

He said the OK1 service is proving popular but that Arriva’s X1 is unnecessary.

He said: "Something needs to be done to address the unfairness of this situation and the bus companies should work together to ensure all routes are well covered.

"There are people in part of my ward who now have no social life because the buses don’t run, while here in Howden the congestion is bad enough without more coming through."

Martin Harris from Go North East said the service was launched to ensure a valuable new service for residents, and feedback had been very positive.

Meanwhile Mr Featham from Arriva said the X1, due to start in the next few weeks, will be "great news for the community."