Wales

77 jobs at risk as Stagecoach to close Brynmawr depot

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Media captionStagecoach blames a "misguided" drop in help from the Welsh government

The biggest bus operator in Wales is to close its depot at Brynmawr in the Gwent valleys in July, putting 77 jobs under threat.

Stagecoach is blaming a "misguided" drop in funding from the Welsh government and reduced local authority investment in bus services.

It said cuts to routes in Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf will follow.

The Welsh government said it was "extremely disappointing news".

Blaenau Gwent council said it had not reduced its subsidy to Stagecoach despite having to find up £10m in savings in the current financial year.

Stagecoach says it employs around 900 people at seven depots in Wales, operates almost 400 vehicles and its services carry about 27 million passengers a year.

The company said it will try to redeploy staff at the depot in Blaenau Gwent where possible.

South Wales managing director John Gould said the cuts in Welsh government funding were "directly responsible" for potential job losses from the depot's closure.

"Sadly it is impossible to continue delivering the same level of services for passengers when we are seeing cut after cut in investment in local bus services," he said.

"The result is that some of our routes are not sustainable and we have to act in order to ensure we can continue to deliver services for customers across the rest of our network over the long-term."

'Hammer blow'

The Unite union described Stagecoach's announcement of the decision to close its Brynmawr depot as "disappointing and distressing".

And Conservative Shadow Business Minister, William Graham AM, said Stagecoach's announcement was "yet another hammer blow for jobs in south Wales and yet more questions for the Labour government to answer".

The Welsh government said: "The new reimbursement rate for bus operators was set following an independent review to ensure operators such as Stagecoach were 'no better and no worse off' by taking part.

"As yet, Stagecoach has not formally informed Welsh government of the threatened closure or service cuts."

Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said: "Stagecoach has been an employer in the area for many years and the closure of the depot in Brynmawr would be a great loss to the borough."

Depot

Last month Cardiff Bus blamed the Welsh government slashing its three-year funding package from £213.3m to £189m for its decision to cut services and raise ticket prices.

In February, BBC Wales revealed nearly 100 subsidised bus routes have been scrapped by councils in Wales in the past three years, with further cuts expected as authorities make savings.

And last autumn, Arriva announced the closure of its Aberystwyth depot as well as a number of route losses blaming cuts in public transport funding and rising fuel costs for the decision.

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