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Chester Bus sale attracts potential buyers

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CHESTER CITY COUNCIL has ended speculation over the future of its Chester Bus company with an announcement that the business is to be sold. The council says that 12 companies have expressed an interest in buying it.

In a letter to Chester Bus employees the council’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Roberts and John Price, say the council wants to ensure a successful public transport service for Chester and a more secure future for staff. They say that in a highly competitive industry this would best be achieved by the city council relinquishing its ownership of the business.

They said: "New investment is required to sustain the future of the company and the people who provide those services. The council does not believe that the long-term success of the business is best served by the company remaining under council ownership.

"For this reason the council has decided to explore the possibility of a sale of the business and has invited bids from interested parties. The council has not taken this decision lightly. It has kept the prospects for the company under review for a number of years and feels that the company is now at the point where the prospects for investment and continued development of bus services in Chester would be better served by new ownership.

"The welfare of employees and sustainability of services have been key considerations and the position of employees will remain a significant factor when reviewing and making decisions on any offers made for the company."

The company operates 81 buses from a former tram depot close to the city centre, but had been proposing to relocate to a new purpose-built depot on the edge of the city. Planning permission has been granted for the depot, but work has not started.

The fleet has suffered from under-investment, with an average age of 12.4 years, excluding five van-based minibuses and six elderly open-toppers. The newest buses are three-year-old BMC Falcons.

www.chester.gov.uk
www.chesterbus.co.uk



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