Future of 50 Lincolnshire bus contracts and jobs unclear after provider withdraws

A bus service provider has pulled out of 50 bus service contracts in Lincolnshire, leaving school buses, adult care transport and jobs at risk.

Essential Fleet Services decided to withdraw from the contracts, which were due to expire in March. They involve:

  • One regular local bus service and CallConnect
  • Home to school (normal school buses and additional services for Special Educational Needs students)
  • Adult Social Care transport (small buses) to help the elderly and vulnerable get to day care centres

Essential Fleet Services and Lincolnshire County Council are working together to find a new provider, with each of the contracts being put out to tender and considered individually.

The council says they should be in a position to know what is happening with each in about one month’s time.

The 50 contracts are:

SEN Transport (16)

  • 0643T – Boston – Spalding Priory School
  • 0644T – Sutterton – Spalding Priory School
  • 10505 – Barkston – Grantham Sandon School
  • 10522 – Grantham Area – Grantham Ambergate School
  • 10624 – North Scarle – Lincoln St Francis School
  • 8724- Stamford – Bourne Willoughby
  • 9331 – Skegness – Spilsby Eresby School
  • 9341 – Yarburgh – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9343 – Legbourne – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9345 – Trusthorpe – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9347 – Sutton on Sea – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9349 – Skegness – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9351 – Skegness Wainfleet – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9352 – Boston – Horncastle St Lawrence School
  • 9526 – Grantham Rural – Spalding Priory School
  • 9793 – Skegness – Horncastle St Lawrence School

Social Care Transport (12)

  • B190 – Pinchbeck – Boston Scott House
  • B216 – Skegness – Boston Scott House
  • L781 – Skellingthorpe – Lincoln Ancaster Day Centre
  • L782 – North Hykeham – Lincoln Ancaster Day Centre
  • M090 – Caistor & Market Rasen – Lilac Court
  • S1027 Deeping St James – Stamford Day Centre
  • SD04 Self Drive Vehicle – Louth LD
  • G142 – Scampton – Gainsborough LD
  • K1005 – Skegness – Algitha/Drummond Road
  • K1006 – Cumberworth – Skegness LD
  • K1007 – West Keal – Skegness LD
  • L774 – Dunholme and Lincoln – Lincoln Ancaster Day Centre

Mainstream Education Transport (1)

  • 9036 – Mumby – Huttoft Primary School

Local Bus Services (1)

  • Louth Town Centre (The Louth Nipper)

CallConnect Services (20)

  • 4R Stamford
  • 37S South Holland
  • 6C Louth – Horncastle
  • 6H Horncastle
  • 65 Horncastle – Sleaford
  • 5C Coningsby
  • 6S Spilsby
  • 9M Mablethorpe
  • 1K Kesteven
  • 15B Bourne
  • 18S Sleaford
  • 51E East of Louth
  • 16S Spalding
  • 1G Grantham
  • 9S Skegness
  • 101G Gainsborough
  • 5B Boston
  • 1CC Grantham
  • 505H Holbeach
  • 505L Long Sutton

Lincolnshire County Council confirmed that 20 CallConnect contracts equate to 21 buses on the road. CallConnect has 40 buses countywide in total.

Essential Fleet have said they hope their staff will all transfer over to the new providers, however the decision will lie with winning bidders.

Ray O’Toole, Chief Executive of Essential Fleet Services, said “We’re working with Lincolnshire County Council to manage the hand-over of passenger services to new operators over the next few months.

“These services are delivered through 51 contracts in all and include Home-to-School transport, Call Connect services, Special Educational Needs and Older Persons transport.

“We’ll continue to run all routes and deliver a high level of service for our customers and passengers until there can be a smooth transition to other operators, ensuring there is no disruption.

“Our priority will be to seek secure employment for our Passenger Services employees through TUPE arrangements and transfer to other providers and we’ll work closely with Lincolnshire County Council to support this.

“In Lincolnshire, we currently provide essential fleet, including gritters and refuse collection vehicles as well as passenger transport, to support the delivery of front-line services by the County Council.”

Anita Ruffle, group manager for the passenger transport unit, said: “Essential Fleet Services recently made us aware of their decision to withdraw from the public service vehicle market from the end of March 2016.

“Supported passenger services affected by this are currently being put back out to tender.

“We will be liaising closely with Essential over the coming months to ensure a smooth hand over of the contracts from April 1.

“Passengers can expect services to remain broadly the same.”