Several Cumbrian villages have been left without a bus service due to the replacement of the bridge at Pooley Bridge.

The stone structure was washed away during Storm Desmond in 2015. Its temporary replacement was removed two weeks ago to allow a new bridge to be installed. This will take several months.

A temporary footbridge is in place, but no vehicles can cross the River Eamont at Pooley Bridge until the new road bridge opens next spring.

Stagecoach runs the 508 bus service from Patterdale to Penrith six times a day, Monday to Friday. It passes through Pooley Bridge, calling at Tirril, Yanwath and Eamont Bridge. The bridge closure has forced Stagecoach to divert it via the A592 and the A66.

The company has offered to run a twice-daily service between Pooley Bridge and Penrith if local parish councils or Cumbria County Council subsidise it to the region of £5,000. But the councils have refused.

Miles Macinnes, chairman of Barton and Pooley Bridge parish council, said: “The county council has refused to support this on the grounds it is their policy not to subsidise bus services. The bridge project is budgeted at £5m - £5,000 is a small price to pay to support the local community and businesses.

“It’s the county council’s bridge that’s gone. The parish councils have very small reserves. It’s a bit of a standstill.”

He added: “The rerouted 508 has a stop at the temporary car park at Waterfoot. At just under a mile’s walk from the centre of Pooley Bridge, this will cause real difficulties to elderly residents, employees vital to the village economy, and tourists.

A spokesman for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire said: “Regretfully the diversionary route to Penrith does not allow us to cover Pooley Bridge, Tirril and Eamont Bridge.

“We have brought forward a solution that would allow these communities, which make up less than a quarter of patronage on the route, to maintain some journeys.

“We offered to fund over half the costs, and asked the parish council and county council whether they could provide funding to cover the remainder. Unfortunately it appears this funding could not be secured.”

In a statement the county council said it “remains committed to reducing the disruption caused by the necessary work”.

“A number of steps have already been taken including opening the new temporary footbridge at a cost of over £350,000. The council also provided a shuttle bus for users of the temporary car park until the temporary footbridge was opened, to ensure access to Pooley Bridge village centre,” it said.

“In the case of Stagecoach, this is a commercial decision by them. Unlike the temporary shuttle bus service, this is an existing service and unfortunately the council would not be able to provide funding to subsidise this.

“The council has not subsidised commercial bus services since 2014 due to receiving no funding to do so. We do continue to invest in schemes such as Rural Wheels and Voluntary Wheels, which help people get out and about in their communities.”