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Stagecoach Insch depot in firing line, as company scraps Inverurie and Alford service

By Lewis McBlane

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STAGECOACH has scrapped a route running from its Insch depot, warning that the facility could close in sweeping cuts to local services that could cause redundancies.

Elgin Bus Station.
Elgin Bus Station.

The 421 service between Alford and Inverurie will be withdrawn, it was announced yesterday, due to a “reduction in operations at our Insch depot”.

A Stagecoach spokesperson said both the Insch and Stonehaven depots were being considered for possible closure.

However, the spokesperson added, it hopes to “be able to mitigate the number of redundancies”.

Stagecoach said the changes came through an ongoing review of operations in North Scotland, as the firm was “unable to cover the cost” of its service routes.

The company said financial pressures stemmed from tender losses, reduced passenger demand and higher costs.

Stagecoach has met with staff and trade union representatives, launching a consultation with employees about the potential closure of depots in Stonehaven and Insch depots.

They say they are “working closely with the trade unions” through a period of consultation.

Employees at the Insch depot will be able to discuss their preferences with the management team and the company will be working hard to accommodate these over the coming weeks.

The company added that they plan to discuss the changes with Aberdeenshire Council and other Local Authorities.

Stagecoach is also stepping away from the 41 service, between Inverurie and Insch, which will be taken on by Watermill Coaches.

Cuts will also mean that the Moray village of Findhorn will lose its only service bus, the number 32, from August 19.

Instead, the service will start at Elgin and terminate at Burghead.

And the peak-time M98 service, between Buckie and Keith, is also being scrapped.

Along with scrapping routes, the company also warned that some “engineering functions” could be moved from its Elgin depot to Inverness.

Also included in the review are plans to stop the 35 bus, the coastal route between Inverness and Aberdeen, running between Inverness and Elgin.

In its place a new service, number 12, will run between Inverness and Elgin and stop at Grant Drive in Thornhill - bypassing Auldearn.

Highland services will not be changing, other than Bluebird Services serving the A96.

The company said it would keep customers updated on developments as the review process continues.

David Beaton, Managing Director for Stagecoach North Scotland said: “We are a significant local employer and we understand the importance of bus services for the local community.

“We also know that any change can be unsettling for our people.

“That’s why we are working closely with both the trade union to protect as many jobs and as much of the local bus services as possible.

“We’re carrying out a consultation and will be working closely with staff during this process, however the reality is that we simply cannot sustain the current operation.”

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