School bus firm collapse hits students
THOUSANDS of children in Essex look set to be stranded with no school transport on Monday after the financial collapse of a student bus company.Phoenix Student Travel Limited had already been paid up front by parents to provide travel for youngsters to get to grammar schools in Essex, including those in Colchester and Chelmsford.
THOUSANDS of children in Essex look set to be stranded with no school transport on Monday after the financial collapse of a student bus company.
Phoenix Student Travel Limited had already been paid up front by parents to provide travel for youngsters to get to grammar schools in Essex, including those in Colchester and Chelmsford.
But it ceased trading yesterday – leaving a big question mark over how around 2,000 students in Essex will be getting to school from next week.
Last night, insolvency and business rescue specialists McTear Williams & Wood said although they were seeking alternative arrangements, it appeared unlikely any services would run early next week.
Partner in the Ipswich-based firm, David Wood, was working with the directors of Maldon-based Phoenix Student Travel Limited and negotiating with other firms to try and secure a continuation of its services.
He said: "Parents have paid in advance for their children's fares and we are looking at every possible option in order to enable the service to continue.
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"However, it is not yet clear if this will be possible and realistically parents should put in place alternative arrangements with effect from Monday morning."
McTear Williams and Wood, he said, was in the process of calling meetings of shareholders and creditors with a view to place Phoenix Student Travel Limited into creditors' voluntary liquidation.
Yesterday another partner in the firm, Andrew McTear, said: "The company was running at a trading loss. It may be that another carrier could run the same journeys at a profit.
"Perhaps it would not have a significant increase in overheads to take the work on.
"However, unless alternative bus companies step into the breach parents are going to have to make their own arrangements.
"We have been in discussions with a couple of coach companies today, and we are trying to reach some agreement where a service could be operated on Monday, but as of this moment we have not been successful."
Mr McTear said that about 2,000 school pupils across Essex could be stranded as a result of the crisis, which would also affect Phoenix Student Travel Limited's 30 staff, most of whom were drivers.
"Parents should assume that for Monday there are no services running. In terms of their money, I am afraid they will just have to be patient and wait for further news. I am hopeful an alternative bus company will step in.
"I would hope that certainly after the half terms holidays, if anything can be put in place it will have been. That's probably their best prospect for getting value for money."
Last night, Dr Mike Walker, headmaster of King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, which has about 850 pupils, said he had only been informed of the news yesterday .
He said: "About 150 of the pupils will be effected – some travel on Phoenix and others travel on services which are contracted through Phoenix.
"As of Monday, as we understand, the Phoenix school routes will not run and we are waiting to hear about the sub-contracted services."
He said it appeared that tickets purchased for next week on some sub-contracted routes would be honoured.
"We will do everything we can to support the children, but ultimately they will need to find alternative means of getting into school in the long run."
Dr Walker added it was a case of waiting to see what would happen about a replacement service but said the school was happy to take calls from concerned parents.
Nobody from Phoenix was available for comment last night.