Bosses of a lifeline community bus service which supports vulnerable residents fears it may struggle to survive because of new EU legislation.

Volunteers from Coggeshall Community Bus, which has been transporting passengers in the market town for more than 35 years, are anxiously awaiting a Government ruling on how it will implement the laws.

One of the options means community run services, like the not-for-profit Coggeshall bus, will have to put volunteer drivers through professional training.

Not only will this be costly, but the bus’ board of directors fear it could put people off signing up.

Nick Cody, secretary, said: “Until July last year we thought we had an understand of how this would be done, but then the Government issued a letter saying it was having a rethink.

“The decision has thrown a blanket of uncertainty over the community transport sector generally.

“This is not to do with safety. Nobody believes community transport is less safe than commercial transport.

“It is difficult enough to get people to step forward and volunteer - if we start telling them they have to take a test they might just run.”

A test could cost £2,000 for each of the bus’ 25 volunteer drivers.

Mr Cody continued: “At the moment we are in a good financial position, but that could well change if we have to put our drivers through tests.

“Also we could pay for people to have these licences and then they leave. We do not have any contractual relationship with the drivers.

“They are just an extraordinary bunch of people who help whether it is summer or winter, no matter what.”

A paid member of staff would also need to be employed for the first time in the bus’ history.

“We do not employ anybody and if we have to do that it would change the dynamic of the organisation,” Mr Cody said.

“There is going to be this potential threat hanging over us until the rules are announced.”

MP Priti Patel, whose Witham constituency includes Coggeshall, has written to the Department for Transport calling for protection for the service.

“The CoggeshalI Community Bus provides a vital service to the local community and is well-used and highly regarded,” she said.

“This meddling from out of touch and overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels is exactly why we are better off out leaving the EU and scraping some of the red tape they have imposed on our country.”

A consultation into potential changes has now finished.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We recognise that community transport provides a vital service, particularly in the more remote areas.

“However, some operators may need to ensure they and their drivers have professional licences, especially if they compete for commercial contracts.

“We recently consulted on how community transport has evolved and how organisations can be helped in the future, and we will share the findings in due course.”