News: Powell's pulls plug on Rotherham routes – Rotherham Business News

A large scale social enterprise has closed its bus companies in Yorkshire – a move that affects a depot and a number of routes in Rotherham.

HCT Group announced last week that their Powell’s and CT Plus bus companies would close and services stopped running on Monday August 8.

HCT Group started out as Hackney Community Transport in 1982 when around 30 local community groups in the London Borough of Hackney pooled their vehicle resources. A new business model was launched in the 1990s based on social impact and a commercial focus has seen the group expand to merge with other community transport providers across the UK.

The enterprise acquired Powell’s in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.

With a depot at Hellaby, Powells Bus Company Ltd was a family run bus service operating local bus services, school buses and private hire services in the Rotherham and Doncaster areas. Founded in 1996, it has a fleet of approximately 30 vehicles.

The latest news affected 19 services across South Yorkshire from its Powells depot in Hellaby, where it employed around 50 staff.

Travel authorities have been working to find alternatives.

Routes in Rotherham include the 18 (Doncaster – Edlington – Maltby – Hellaby) where an alternative is two journeys on Service 10 provided by First South Yorkshire from Hellaby to Doncaster.

Globe is set to take on the X20 route with a reduced service and replacement operators are being sought for services at Wales High School for September.

No replacement is planned for the 3 service (Rotherham – Ravenfield Common) with alternative journeys available on the 116 and X10 services.

Alternatives have not yet been annouced for the 117 (Rotherham – Bramley) service or the A1 (Sheffield – Waverley – Meadowhall) route.

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Lynn McClelland, HCT Group Chief Executive, said: “This is a very sad day for us all at HCT Group. Everyone at Powell’s – and across the wider HCT Group – has worked tirelessly to put the operations in Yorkshire on a sustainable footing, but there is nothing further to be done.

“It has been our pleasure and privilege to serve the people of South Yorkshire since we began operating services in 2018, and an honour to work with such a dedicated team. I am saddened for those colleagues whose livelihoods are affected and for the passengers in Yorkshire who rely on us. I am deeply sorry that this is the outcome we face.”

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said: “At a time when operators are already failing to provide passengers with the services they need and deserve this is another blow.

“With the limited public money available to support bus companies, we had been providing Powell’s with additional levels of financial support this year. Their announcement this week is just another example of how the system as a whole is broken – temporarily plugging the gap of at-risk services is not a viable long-term solution or a route to building the public transport network our region needs.

“Right now we have a broken system that allows operators to simply walk away, leaving taxpayers to step in and prop up services, so people can get to work, school, medical appointments and to see family and friends. That’s why we are undertaking the assessment into whether we can franchise South Yorkshire’s buses, as a route to a long-term solution for our public transport network. In the meantime, it’s also why we’ve asked the government for a funding package that allows us to better support and maintain our public transport network.

“More immediately, I have asked officers to look into all the options open to us to protect services, including our legal position in relation to ownership of bus companies. People will understand that it’s a complicated process, limited by legislation in the Bus Services Act and a host of other challenges. However, I will explore any and all opportunities to protect and improve services.

“However, my priority is to move at pace to find operators to plug the gaps that have been created by Powells. I’m pleased to say we have had positive conversations with alternative operators and I’m confident we are in a position to fund other operations to provide some of the services that are at threat of being cancelled. We’ll make details available as soon as we have them.”

Images: Powell’s / Faebook

Nothing to worry about here, we'll have some new cycle lanes soon
On the A1 route, journeys are to be provided by Cawthornes Travel from Monday 15 August.

Some journeys at peak times (Mon-Fri) to operate between Meadowhall and Waverley only.

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