Coach companies being given conflicting guidelines on when they can operate again, says Shadow Transport Minister on Leeds visit

Calls have been made for clarity on when coach operators can begin to trade again.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 6:00 am
Coach company Bibby's of Ingleton, pictured at Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which lost thousands last year during the pandemic

Shadow Transport Minister and Labour MP Sam Tarry visited Leeds yesterday to meet with the CEO of JG Travel Group, as concerns were raised about conflicting statements from different Government departments on when coach companies can begin to operate again.

Mr Tarry said that more than 100 coach operators across the country, many of which are family-owned businesses which are a fundamental aspect of the UK tourism, culture and sport industries, have been lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in thousands of job losses.

Along with Leeds North East MP Alex Sobel Mr Tarry has written to the Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State for Transport and Culture, Media and Sport, asking for clear guidelines on when coach operators can begin business again.

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“The problem is, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Transport guidance directly contravenes each other,” Mr Tarry said.

“The DfT guidelines are similar to the buses, while the DCMS, which is the tourism side, is effectively restricting coach travel to one family or bubble. So they’re effectively not being allowed to operate.”

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The letter, addressed to MPs Baroness Vere and Nigel Huddleston, writes that the conflicting guidance from both Government departments has "raised serious questions of clarity".

It says: "From several meetings with industry experts, we have been told that this lack of clarity around the guidance has thrown many operators' reopening plans into total disarray.

"After a devastating year for the industry, which has seen the loss of more that 100 operators and insufficient levels of Government support, this latest blunder further compounds their situation."

Mr Sobel, who is Shadow Minister for Tourism and Heritage, said coaches had been “forgotten about”, and both MPs said they were urging for the industry to be included in the Treasury’s recovery plan for the sector.

"Coach operators have been forgotten in various Government announcements and packages," he said.

"They really can't be forgotten again – they really have to be in the tourism recovery plan."

A DfT spokesman said: “We understand that this is a frustrating time for coach operators and the Government is committed to supporting the sector in the long-term.

“Government guidance has remained consistent and in line with the Roadmap, as set out by the Prime Minister on 22 February.

"The roadmap makes clear that, until Step 3 (no earlier than 17 May), travel should be minimised, and indoor mixing between people of different households is not permitted."