End of road for Kent County Council bus company Kent Top Travel
Kent Top Travel was Kent
County Council's bus company
by political editor Paul Francis
Kent County Council is to wind up its bus company Kent Top
Travel and no longer compete for commercial services.
The council says it plans a phased withdrawal from the bus
market after several years in which it has often come under fire
from other operators.
They have regularly claimed they have lost contracts to the
KCC-run company, which was set up in 2005 and is based at
Aylesford, near Maidstone, and employs around 100 people.
KCC argued it was helping to moderate contract prices
The county council's decision comes after a wide-ranging review
of all its commercial and trading operations, which has examined
whether KCC should continue with some of its activities.
review followed a critical report by independent consultants who
said KCC had taken an "opportunistic approach" to the development
of its trading companies to meet financial targets.
Kent Top Travel has been incorporated into the council's other
principal commercial operation, Kent Top Temps, a recruitment
It saw profits fall in 2011-2012 to £220,000 from £420,000 the
previous year - a drop of 47%.
In a statement, KCC said it would continue to run services until
contracts were completed.
Ian McPherson, managing director of commercial services, said:
"This is part of a wider strategy to remain in markets in which we
have a competitive advantage thus ensuring value for the
"Our planned exit from the transport market will be phased over
next year to ensure that we honour current contractual commitments
whilst ensuring no disruption to service users. We are
confident that there will be minimal detrimental effect to
As well as operating a range of routes across all parts of the
county, Kent Top Travel also has the contract to operate the park
and ride service for Canterbury City Council.
Cllr Tim Prater, opposition Liberal Democrat spokesman pictured
above left, said: "I am sure commercial operators who have had
worries about Kent Top Travel in the past will be relieved.
"It certainly seems to have outstayed its welcome given that it
was intended to moderate the market and that has now happened."
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