COUNCIL officers are working “tirelessly”to secure replacement services lost when Wrexham’s largest independent transport company unexpectedly ceased trading.
The Leader reported yesterday that Acrefair-based D Jones & Son had unexpectedly ceased trading over the weekend.
Wrexham Council and Denbighshire Council had to put contingencies in place for school transport in both counties, with disruption caused to local services formerly operated by the company.
Cllr David A Bithell, Wrexham Council’s lead member for environment and transport, said: “Obviously we’re continuing to deal with the loss of D Jones & Son as best we can and officers have worked, and continue to work tirelessly in order to secure alternative provision for those services which have been lost.
“We would ask members of the public to keep an eye on our social media, and those of transport service providers, in order to check up on the status of replacement services.
“Updates will also be available on the council’s news blog.”
Cllr Bithell also circulated an information report to all councillors and all community councils in order to update everyone on the ongoing situation.
It states: “At 2.30pm on Friday, December 15, officers received word of potential significant disruption to transport services.
“It was indicated that a transport operator, D Jones & Son, was anticipating ceasing operations on Saturday, December 16, with no vehicles leaving the depot from the morning of Sunday, December 17.
“Officers were made aware that D Jones & Son had not given closure notice to staff at this time, but that they intended to on Saturday, December 16.
“Officers immediately sought alternative provision for the statutory education transport services and by Sunday evening they were able to confirm seven substitute operators to ensure the provision of the statutory school bus services until the end of this term.
“D Jones & Son were the largest independent transport provider currently operating in Wrexham county borough, providing commercial, school and private contract services throughout Wrexham, Denbighshire and into Cheshire and Shropshire.
“Officers are urgently examining gaps in the local bus network to determine the wider impacts and to identify the need and scope for any replacement services in line with the contingency plan adopted following the closure of GHA Coaches in July 2016.
“During the school holiday and before return on week commencing January 8, 2018, officers will seek to procure permanent private contract services for home to school transport.
“This will ensure that we meet our statutory obligations in line with the Learner Travel Wales Measure.
“Further update reports will be provided at milestones.”
Reacting to the latest bus firm closure, Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones said: “This is of significant concern following the cessation of GHA coach services last year.
“How can it be that another bus company which must have been in financial trouble was awarded a council contract?
“My concerns particularly include the 5, 6, 9, 10, J50 and 146 bus routes which provide transport for isolated and elderly constituents in the area.
“I hope Wrexham Council gets new bus routes running as a matter of urgency.
“I have written to the council to express my concern as well as making representations to the Welsh Government in relation to this situation”.