Bus firm pulls services out of Northampton

Development site
Development site

The First bus company is in talks to withdraw all its services from Northampton.

The firm says it is still officially consulting with unions over closing the First Northampton depot in St James Road, St James, and cutting its two remaining bus routes, the 2 and 4, serving Rectory Farm and Obelisk Rise.

Staff who contacted the Chron said drivers were told last week they would be made redundant on August 8.

A First spokeswoman said the Northampton operation had been struggling financially for a number of reasons.

She said: “First’s Northampton depot has been a concern for a number of years, and the company is now faced with extra cost pressures due to the economic climate, high fuel prices and cuts in external funding.”

First said it had explored alternatives to closure, including selling its operations and transferring employees to other operators but said that “unfortunately these were unsuccessful”.

First Northampton employs 45 people,some of whom may be transferred to other First depots, and runs 17 buses. As well as the two public routes – reduced from seven in May – it also runs two school contracts, which have terminated this week with the end of academic year.

Nigel Barrett, regional managing director, said he was “confident” another operator would step in to take over all the services First currently runs.

He said: “I’m truly sorry that we are having to consider withdrawing services in Northampton and the possibility of redundancies as well as the closure of the depot. However, we have been running these services in Northampton at a loss for some time.”

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire County Council said the 4a route would be covered by the Stagecoach service no 15 from September 2, meaning a fortnight’s overlap.

And the 2 route would be covered by Stagecoach’s own number 2 service.

The bus depot could become a key gateway to the Enterprise Zone.

It is the only Enterprise Zone plot in St James Road, St James, and a new development could link this major thoroughfare to parts of the zone behind Franklin’s Gardens.

The site itself will no doubt be an attractive proposition to potential buyers.

It is within Northampton’s Enterprise Zone, which means it will benefit from simpler planning rules and tax breaks.

It is also a sizeable area of land (12,700 sq metres) and very near Northampton train station, making it handy for potential businesses to attract commuters.

The whole site is available freehold and commercial agent Rapleys says there is potential for retail, residential or mixed use, subject to planning consent.