A petition calling for a well-used bus service to be saved has reached more than 1,000 signatures.

First Essex has announced a shake up of its services will take place from next Monday meaning revised timetables, route changes and the loss of some services completely.

One of the routes which is set to be axed is the number 72, which travels from Rickstones Road, Witham, to Chelmsford Bus Station, via Hatfield Peverel.

However residents have started a campaign to save the service, which serves New Rickstones Academy and the new Maltings Park estate, and collected a 1,000 name petition.

Witham MP Priti Patel has backed residents' campaign and has written to First Group's chief executive to call for him to reconsider the decision.

Ms Patel said: "The number 72 bus route must be reinstated and it is disappointing that First are planning to axe it.

"There has been no consultation and pupils attending New Rickstones Academy will be badly affected by this change.

"People rely on this service every day and it is shocking that First have failed to think through the consequences of this decision.

"Parents are very concerned and worried and First need to listen to them and reverse their plans.”

A spokesperson for First Essex said: "We welcome all feedback from residents relating to any changes with our services. 

“In regards to the 72 First Essex service, part of this route will be covered by changes to another service. For further information on changes for 18th February please visit our website from Monday 15th January."

To sign the petition, visit http://bit.ly/2DycVpt.