Stagecoach announces review of Norfolk bus services and possible closure of King’s Lynn depot
More than 100 jobs and bus services including the Coasthopper are in the balance after a bus company confirmed it could close its depot in King's Lynn.
Stagecoach - which runs around 50 vehicles and employs 120 staff - said it was reviewing its operations in Norfolk in response to the challenging economic environment.
It blames a combination of rising operating costs and pressure on public sector budgets.
The company said it has met with trade union representatives to minimise the impact on staff and launched a consultation with employees over the potential closure of its Lynn depot.
The company is hoping to relocate the majority of its staff with other operators or elsewhere within the Stagecoach East area, which includes Bedford, Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough.
A Stagecoach spokesman said employees would be able to discuss their preferences with the management team over the coming weeks.
The spokesman added that the bus company is working with Norfolk County Council to protect as much of the local service as possible and that customers will be kept updated throughout the review process.
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One 35-year-old King's Lynn bus driver - who did not want to be named - said he has already secured another job with Sanders Coaches, a move being mirrored by other employees. He said: 'Some of us have already found other work as a consequence of this. I heard bits and bobs through RMT and I thought I didn't have time to just sit back.
'You're going to go before it gets too bad.'
He said he has recently moved to Burnham Market and so he would not be able to take up an offer of employment in the other areas of Stagecoach East, as it is too far for him to travel to.
The bus driver of two years also said that bus drivers have already heard from the union RMT about the future of Stagecoach.
He added: 'It is just not feasible.
'There are about 70 to 80 services running in King's Lynn and I've heard the Coasthopper is going Lynx. They are all being pulled as early as next week. 'I have heard they are shutting the gates and not opening them.'
When asked about whether bus services will be pulled as early as next week, a Stagecoach spokesman said: 'We are unable to comment on specific routes, because the company is in early-stage discussions with the council and other operators as to which routes can be covered going forwards.'
Stagecoach has operated the Norfolk bus business since December 2013.
Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, said: 'We are a significant local employer and we understand the importance of bus services for the local community.
'We also know that any change can be unsettling for our people. That's why we are working closely with both the trade union and local authority to protect as many jobs and as much of the local network as possible.
'We're carrying out a consultation and will be working liaising closely with staff during that process.
'However, the reality is that we simply cannot sustain the current operation given the challenging economic climate that we're faced with.'
Stagecoach East currently employs around 1100 staff and operates a fleet of more than 400 buses.