Norse Commercial Services has formed a new Joint Venture to take over the management of the fleet of school coaches and minibuses currently run by Suffolk County Council.

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The tie-up with the EDP/EADT Top 100 firm follows nearly two years of discussions and joint working with the authority, looking at partnership options for the provision of the county’s in-house schools’ passenger services, a new joint venture company, Suffolk Norse Ltd, has been formed to deliver Travel and Swimming Services.

The 10-year, £3m a year deal will see 130 staff and 70 vehicles transfer to Suffolk Norse, and will start on February 1.

Trevor Whiting, currently Service Manager with Suffolk County Council’s Passenger Fleet Department, will become Managing Director of the new company.

Norse’s Commercial Director Paul Bonham, said: “This is an ideal fit with our existing coach and minibus operations in Norfolk, and will represent good value for money for Suffolk tax payers. Norse will bring a more commercial approach to operating the fleet, which will hopefully enable efficiencies to be made whilst increased turnover will be achieved through new contracts.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport said: “I very much welcome this collaboration and am confident it will be a real success. This really is a fantastic example of two counties working closely together to meet the challenges of the current financial climate and to save tax payers money in an innovative and effective manner.”

Tony Williams, Norse Board Member and Norfolk County Councillor, added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Suffolk County Council in this new joint venture.”

“Our joint venture companies in places from Barnsley to Devon, Leeds to London are already delivering good results for their communities and we are confident this latest initiative will be a benefit to all concerned.”

“This is yet another positive development for the Norse Group, particularly in these challenging economic times.”

Suffolk Norse will be owned 80pc by Norse Commercial Services and 20pc by Suffolk.

Norse Commercial Services has a number of partnership agreements with local councils including GYBS in Great Yarmouth, Waveney Norse and SCS with Suffolk Coastal district council locally, and Enfield, Devon, Wellingborough and Barnsley further afield.

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