Local businesses, councillors and festival goers have been left frustrated after discovering that the Hay Festival organisers’ have decided not to run Villages Shuttle buses for this year's festival, which, in previous years, linked the festival site, on the edge of Hay-on-Wye with the villages of Llanigon, Three Cocks/Gwernyfed and the town of Talgarth.

The decision was made many months ago and was included in the Festival's print programme and on their website in March.

Several local hospitality businesses noticed that the network of shuttle stops were not being erected, as previously and, on checking the Festival programme, the reality dawned that the service had been withdrawn, whilst other shuttles linking places as far afield as Worcester and Hereford have been retained.

One local business that fears a severe impact is The Tower Hotel, Talgarth. The owner, Pip Ellis, commented: "We are deeply disappointed at the withdrawal of the shuttle, which has been a valued service for Festival goers, including our guests in recent years. 

"The short notice and apparent absence of consultation makes it all the worse. This time, our guests include a young couple from the United States who are due to join us for the Festival and are coming thousands of miles on their honeymoon, only to be left high and dry by this decision of the new Hay Festival management.

"So much for community, neighbourliness and indeed, the environment. To say that we are gutted would be an understatement."

This view was endorsed by Gwernyfed Ward resident, Mrs Sally Cherry, of the Sheep House Action Group (SHAG), which is campaigning on speed limits on the western approach to Hay on Wye.

Mrs Cherry expressed her alarm at the news, she said: "This decision will inevitably lead to a significant increase in traffic and vehicle emissions, just when Climate Change and Global Warming are being debated on the Festival site. 

"There is also a significant accident history of accidents by Sheep House bends on the B4350, due to excessive speed, including several fatalities.

"Festival goers will inevitably be forced to take additional risks in getting from their pre-booked accommodation to the venue, without the benefit of the Village Shuttle Bus."

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch has replied to these comments, she said:

"Hay Festival is a charity operating in Powys. We bring together communities and individuals from all over the world to enjoy events in our book town, Hay-on-Wye. This requires complex logistical planning in close partnership with our local community, covering everything from transport and accommodation to infrastructure and security.  

"Each year we subsidise public transportation links to make visits to the Festival simpler for audiences, endeavouring to improve sustainable infrastructure locally. We have operated connections between Hereford and Hay, along with shuttle buses to further connect the site with the town and local villages. Historically, we have run these routes at a considerable financial loss and as a charity we cannot do so indefinitely.  

"While our city and town buses will still be running this year, we do not have the funds to run the village service. This decision was discussed within our local working group, which includes representatives from Hay Council and Powys County Council, and communicated to audiences earlier this year. We continue to search for possible solutions and are open to any approaches to get the service up and running in partnership with other charities and businesses."

Black Mountains College, based at Talgarth, responded to a tweet of disappointment from Talgarth Matters, Twitter account of the Talgarth and District Regeneration Group,  by floating the idea of making available their own minibus to help bridge the gap left by the cancellation of the Village Shuttle.

County Councillor Will Lloyd (Welsh Lib Dem, Gwernyfed) gave the idea a fair wind:

 "I would actively promote this… Well done Black Mountains College, for potentially filling the Village Shuttle Bus void and looking out for local people and businesses, as well as Hay Festival goers. It’s not all about Stormzy, Tracey Emin, Barbara Kingsolver and Richard Osman."

Despite this idea, a spokesperson from Hay Festival has said: "We explored Black Mountain College's offer of putting on the service, but it was withdrawn as they are not insured for this. And we have reached out to Councillor William Lloyd direct to explore his ideas further."