First Scotland East has confirmed proposals to cease bus operations in East Lothian and close its depots in North Berwick and Musselburgh from August 14 this year.
Operations in the area have reportedly not been viable for a number of years, even after hard work was put it to attract sufficient customers to turn the business around in an increasingly competitive market.
However, the company had been obliged to continue operations in this area through undertakings agreed following an investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
First Scotland East was released from these undertakings recently by the Competition and Markets Authority. In order to allow the company to focus resources in areas with increasing customer demand, it is proposing these actions – following a review period.
Paul McGowan, Managing Director of First Scotland East, said: “I’m disappointed that we’re proposing to withdraw from Musselburgh and North Berwick. We will today engage with the local authority on the future of bus services.
“However, given there are other bus operators that operate in and around the area, I’m confident if we decide to go ahead with these proposals the majority of our customers won’t be left without a service.”
The operator has also confirmed that it has begun a consultation process with trade unions regarding the expected redundancies among the workforce at the North Berwick and Musselburgh depots. If the proposals are implemented, a total of 878 positions would be classified as ‘at risk’.
Paul McGowan commented: “I am sorry that we are having to discuss the proposal to discontinue services and consider the possibility of redundancies.
“I must stress our proposals do not, in any way, reflect the commitment and quality of our employees in the area. I cannot speak highly enough of their professionalism and dedication. We will be doing everything we can to assist those affected.”
He added: “Unfortunately, we’ve incurred losses in East Lothian for years. Should the proposal be implemented this will allow us to concentrate our investment in West Lothian, the Borders and the Central Belt, improving our services for customers and growing our operations in those areas, helping protect jobs in the long term.”
Prior to today’s announcement, First Scotland East began its official consultation process with affected colleagues. This will include offering opportunities in other areas.