BUS users have complained about being left out in the cold due to an ‘inadequate service’.

People accessing the 885 Byrness to Hexham bus have raised concerns that a 16-seater vehicle sent by bus company PCL Travel, on behalf of operators Northumberland County Council, had prevented regulars from travelling as all could not fit on the minibus.

Until recently, Byrness resident Leslie Baines and his partner used the bus each week. However, his partner suffered from claustrophobia and could no longer get on the 16-seater sent in the winter months because of the cramped conditions.

Mr Baines added that the bus would quickly fill up, leaving many elderly residents at Otterburn and other communities stuck at the bus stop.

He said: “We feel cut off. We only have the once weekly bus to Hexham and we feel the service is totally inadequate. There is a bus which goes to Newcastle, but you can’t do your shopping there. Once 16 people get on the bus, there’s no where to put your shopping bags and the bus is too cramped.

“We need something a little bit bigger and can get more people on, because there were five people left stranded at Otterburn and West Woodburn a few weeks ago.”

A spokeswoman for the county council said the bus operator was only contracted to provide a 16-seat vehicle.

A larger bus was provided during the summer months when more people used the service.

She said it was encouraging to see the service remaining popular during the winter months, and admitted it was regrettable that people could not access it, particularly given the demographic of the users.

The council was in discussion with PCL about providing a larger vehicle during winter.