Bus company boss says ‘council let town down’

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A BUS company boss has hit out at Hartlepool Borough Council by saying it has “let the town down” after it was forced to move its base elsewhere due to savage cuts.

Tees Valley Coach Travel is the largest independent bus company in Teesside, and was based in the town’s Brenda Road.

But after huge cuts to the services last year, which will cost the company between £150,000 and £160,000 a year, it has now relocated to Eaglescliffe.

The company had seven of its subsidised services which ran throughout Hartlepool pulled last year amid the huge public sector cuts.

Ian Peacock, managing director of the company, said it was no longer viable to remain based in Hartlepool.

He told the Mail: “This is purely a company thing, it’s a business move.

“The cuts came as a complete surprise to us last year.

“We didn’t see them coming.

“But we estimate they cost us between £150,000 and £160,000 a year.

“We have to make that money back somehow.

“We haven’t made any redundancies but by moving to Eaglescliffe we think we are going to save around £40,000 a year.

“We were completely committed to Hartlepool, but with the service cuts it just isn’t viable to have our base there.”

Mr Peacock said the current Tees Valley Coach services running in the town will remain despite the relocation.

After the cuts, the company combined the 823 and the 826 service despite the fact they are no longer subsidised by the council.

But he said come the winter he feels the council will realise they have “made mistakes”.

He added: “I don’t blame the councils because they are all in the same boat.

“But Hartlepool Council has just said ‘let’s look after ourselves’.

“I think they have let the town down.

“I feel sorry for the pensioners who live in the villages who no longer have the bus services.

“How are they getting out and about now?

“I also feel sorry for the children.

“If we have another winter like last year how are they going to cope walking to school?”

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “In the current financial year, the council is losing a total of £14.2m in the amount of grant it receives from the Government – a 19 per cent cut in the level of grant it previously received.

“It was with great reluctance that the council withdrew financial support for a number of commercial bus services in the town.

“But in the current economic climate it felt that it could no longer justify subsidising private bus companies.”