Fenton-based coach firm Procters pulls out of bus routes
THE future of one of North Staffordshire's longest-running coach companies is in doubt after the business withdrew its school and public bus services.
Fenton-based Procters Coaches stopped providing transport to schools across the region with immediate effect earlier this week.
Its weekday number 16 public bus service – between Hanley, Cheddleton and Leek – is also affected by the company's move.
Directors running the firm were today unavailable for comment.
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The gates to the firm's Fenton depot were locked on Thursday and yesterday and calls to the company's offices have not been answered.
Local authorities were forced to seek urgent cover to provide transport for children heading to school and also for activities such as swimming lessons after being contacted by Procters this week.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it has issued emergency contracts to cover the decision by Procters to withdraw its services.
Sneyd Green Primary was among the Stoke-on-Trent schools affected this week after its regular swimming classes were disrupted.
Meanwhile, Staffordshire County Council has confirmed it was made aware of 'potential issues' with the company on Tuesday and forced to seek alternatives. Among the affected North Staffordshire schools were Painsley Catholic College, in Cheadle, Westwood College, in Leek and St Edward's Church of England Academy, which is also in Leek.
County Councillor Mike Maryon, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: "We were informed of potential issues with Procters Coaches on Tuesday, and acted immediately to secure alternative transport for the five school runs Procters previously covered.
"By Wednesday we had replaced all coaches, meaning there was no disruption to services."
The authority has confirmed it will continue to use alternative operators while the future of the business remains unclear.
It is understood Procters – which is based on Fenton Industrial Estate, in Dewsbury Road – was founded in the 1950s. It also runs day trips and coach holidays.
Selwyn Brown, chairman of North Staffordshire transport group Aces, below left, said: "It is disappointing to hear about Procters withdrawing its commercial services.
"I know the number 16 is a popular service heading into Leek as it is considered to be 'the scenic route'.
"I know people were disappointed to hear Procters was not continuing to run the service."
Potteries-based Wardle Transport has confirmed it will take on the running of the route.