SAVE OUR BUSES: Twist in ‘bus wars’ saga sees operator keep hold of Corby service

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Centrebus will continue to run a threatened bus service between Corby and Rutland after council bosses voted to extend the bidding process.

The firm gave notice to Rutland Council in March that they no longer wished to run the popular Rutland Flyer 1 service which carried 127,000 passengers between Corby, Cottingham, Great Easton, Caldecott, Uppingham, Oakham and Melton last year.

This meant that the Centrebus contract would come to an end on June 23 and it was initially feared that the service would end.

Rival operator Stagecoach swooped in with a bid to run the subsidised service, and Rutland Council managed to {https://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/corby-village-bus-service-saved-by-quarter-of-a-million-pound-lifeline-1-8509582 |stump up £270,000 of taxpayers money|} - a rise of £220,000 from the previous £53k subsidy.

With the lucrative new contract about to be awarded, Centrebus did an about-turn and decided they might like to withdraw their notice after all.

A Cabinet Meeting on 22 May approved a potential increase in expenditure to fund the RF1 if needed but with officers asked to explore further options for delivering the service in the most cost-effective way.

Now Rutland Council has decided to allow Centrebus to continue running the service while they do some more procurement work on finding a bidder that can provide value for money while ensuring the service keeps running.

Steve Ingram, strategic director for places at Rutland County Council, said: “The most important thing remains the continued operation of the RF1 service for the benefit of the many passengers who rely on it. However, the local authority also has a duty to provide value for money and safeguard public resources, particularly in light of the substantial figures that are potentially involved. As a result, the decision has been taken to extend the procurement process for RF1 while ensuring measures are in place to continue meeting the needs of service users.”

The extended tender process for RF1 will run until 6th July 2018, after which Council will review the bids received.

This week the Northants Telegraph launched its own Save our Buses campaign to try to ask Northants county council to think again about leaving communities stranded after it cut all bus subsidies.

Labour party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Corby Beth Miller is runnning a petition to help save all of Northamptonshire’s threatened bus service which are ending this summer. You can sign it here

TIMELINE:

22 March 2018: Centrebus advises Rutland County Council of its intention to terminate its existing agreement to operate RF1. Three-month notice period means current service commitments would end on 23 June 2018.

28 March 2018: Rutland County Council begin a tender process to identify a new operator for RF1. Tender process is advertised to all commercial operators, including Centrebus.

27 April 2018: Tender period inviting commercial operators to bid to run the RF1 Service closes. The tender process resulted in only one response from Stagecoach, whose bid of £270,840 per annum was an increase of £220,448 per year on the existing Centrebus contract.

21 May 2018: Centrebus advise that they may wish to withdraw their Notice.

22 May 2018: Cabinet Meeting to discuss Report No: 89/2018 Continuation of Rutland Flyer Bus Service. Cabinet approved potential expenditure of up to £220,000 required to continue operating RF1 but also challenged officers to explore further options for delivering the service in the most cost-effective way, before the final contract for RF1 is awarded.

6 June 2018: Rutland County Council and Centrebus consent to a mutually agreed period of continuation under their existing contract agreement, ensuring continued operation of RF1 in advance of further procurement work.

7 June 2018: Start date for extended RF1 procurement process

6 July 2018: End date for extended RF1 procurement process

READ MORE: All of the routes being axed in Northamptonshire