Transport watchdogs and Cornish MPs have reacted angrily to the sweeping cuts in bus services announced by First.

One-hundred-and-fifty jobs are to go and a number of services will be lost. Unless the county council comes up with more cash to help prop up other routes, they too could be axed.

The latest cuts come in the wake of the planned closure of First's Truro depot. Now up to 35 drivers from Camborne, Truro and Falmouth will lose their jobs, with a further 12 admin and management from the depot.

The Truro city centre site has been sold for development. First will move to another site near the city from which to maintain vehicles, but with fewer staff.

In addition a total of 15 "less well-used services" in the three areas will be axed and a further 35 will undergo changes.

Up to 20 engineering staff will go from the St Austell depot which is also marked for closure.

Truro MP Matthew Taylor is holding an emergency meeting with First. He said: "When this meeting was arranged, I was pleased to hear that extra drivers were currently being recruited by First to improve reliability. Yet within a day of that news, I am told they are axing routes and cutting staff.

"Frankly First management don't know whether they are coming or going - and neither do their customers or staff," he said. "This is bad news indeed, and a real letdown by First group."

David Ridgewell for Transport 2000 said his group was "extremely concerned" and would be lobbying the county council to do all it could to fund services so desperately needed in the county. "We are not surprised by the news," he said. "We need to find a better way of funding bus services in Cornwall. The county council should decide which routes they want to keep and fund them."

Liberal Democrat MP for West Cornwall Andrew George said the bus company was "turning its back on Cornwall". "This is a bolt from the blue and I do not doubt that many thousands of passengers will be very angry about this," he said.

Transport spokesman for Meybon Kernow David Tellam, also a Camborne town councillor, has challenged First to re-invest in Cornwall and its public transport network. He also wants the county council to make sure that routes are maintained and supported.

Falmouth and Camborne MP Candy Atherton said: "I am very disappointed to learn of the 12 redundancies in my constituency and reductions in bus services."

She was hoping to have a meeting with the managing director of First, Gerald Taylor, to discuss the changes.

"These are commercial decisions because First cannot run at a loss but I will also be contacting the county council about replacing services where they are necessary to local people in my constituency. Stithians, for example, has lost links to nearby towns. I am also concerned that the Falmouth town centre service has been withdrawn due to poor management of traffic in the main street."

Mr Taylor said: "This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. We find ourselves losing money and like all bus companies we cannot allow this situation to continue. First is a major employer in Cornwall and we have to make sure that we keep ourselves on a firm financial footing."

Mr Taylor said that some unpopular routes, including the 48 and 49 from Camborne to Kehelland and Gwithian, would stop altogether.

"Everybody wants a bus service, but in a predominantly rural area like Cornwall there isn't enough money for everyone to have one," he said.

Robert Hichens for the county council said: "Subsidising passenger journeys costs the county council around £4 million a year at present, but transport budgets are under pressure for the coming year so there are no guarantees that we can extend subsidies to extra routes."

Proposed changes to First's services do not come into effect until May 26, with the final published timetable available from May 16.