A bus provider is yet to provide evidence why it cancelled a well-used service - two months after it was axed.

Witham Town Council is locked in a row with First Essex over the company’s cancellation of the 72 service, which ran from Rickstones Road, Witham, to Chelmsford Bus Station, via Hatfield Peverel.

First claimed it cancelled the service due to “low patronage”, however since the announced in February residents have campaigned to save the service and more than 1,500 people signed online and paper petitions.

A spokesman for Witham Town Council said: “To date we feel that we haven’t received a robust enough explanation, other than First’s statement of intent to withdraw the service.

“What the council hasn’t seen is any kind of business evidence or rationale that demonstrates why the 72 service had to be withdrawn.”

The spokesman asked First to explain the cancellation in detail to the public, demonstrating the needs of the community were considered before the axe.

First Essex states the route of the 72 bus service, which served the new Maltings Estate in Witham, is primarily covered by its 71 and 40 services.

A spokesman for First Essex said: “The changes to service 72 from the week commencing February 18 is a result of a comprehensive review of our network, with the aim of providing a punctual, reliable and sustainable service for the future.

“We have a great relationship with all councils, with a continual dialogue between ourselves and Witham Town Council on the matter highlighted.

“Any information which has been requested, has been responded to in a timely manner.”