Minibuses on reduced timetables will replace some bus services in Flintshire after councillors agreed to reduce funding.

Flintshire Council's cabinet has voted in favour of cutting the amount of money it gives to commercial bus operators, meaning only nine key routes in the county will be supported by the taxpayer.

Services in some rural areas will instead be replaced by minibuses run by the local authority after the decision at Tuesday's meeting, however admitted they would run less frequently.

Meanwhile, council support for some services will be withdrawn completely, and one company has already signalling its intention to end one of its routes as a result.

The changes were outlined by Councillor Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for streetscene and countryside, who said the authority could not fund the full range of existing public transport routes as it was facing financial pressures of £350,000 within the department.

She said: "Many of the supported bus services in Flintshire are still under-utilised and therefore heavily subsidised which makes them unsustainable.

"There is no statutory duty upon the council to provide local bus services or any other form of public transport, but the authority does have a statutory duty under the 1985 and 2000 Transport Acts to keep the bus network under review, and intervene where it feels appropriate.

"A pilot scheme has already been launched for alternative community-based transport to mitigate the change to services.

"Approximately 50 to 60 per cent of respondents to the individual consultation were people aged over 60. A large proportion of these were concerned about the loss of mobility and independence, and stated that they relied on existing bus services for social and health reasons.

"Hopefully we will have a sustainable service in place for the next three to five years to give people the confidence to use it."

The council has received Welsh Government and EU funding to buy four 16-seat minibuses to run the service, as well as five low carbon emission buses for the existing Deeside Shuttle Service.

It said that using its own vehicles will ensure routes are optimised in line with the available budget, but admitted it will need to change timetables to make necessary savings.

More than 55 bus routes are currently operated by private companies across Flintshire, 40 per cent of which are either partly or completely subsidised at a cost of £1,068,352 per year, including Welsh Government grant funding.

Discussing the Deeside service, Cllr Thomas said: "It is proposed that at the off-peak times during the day, options will be explored to use the buses to support local travel arrangements and ensure that they are utilised to full capacity.

"The new vehicles will be extremely cost effective to operate, as they use new technology working alongside the Euro 6 engine, which means improved fuel economy."

Councillors also backed proposals to make changes to school bus services which are not legally required, after the council identified a number of cases where it provides transport for pupils outside its policy.

As a result, travel arrangements for new starters on some routes will come to an end from September, but pupils already using the service will not be affected.

Cabinet members also voted to almost double the cost of concessionary bus passes from £165 a year to £300.