THE owner of a coach firm which saw around 100 bookings cancelled due to Covid Omicron fears has spoken out after it emerged he would not be eligible for a support package.

Andrew Scott, co-director of Stanley Travel, warned of an industry crisis after the Government unveiled £6,000 grants for hospitality and leisure firms, but not bus or coach companies.

Mr Scott, who last week revealed the company had seen mass cancellations amid Covid uncertainty, claimed the bus and coach sector had again been allowed to “fall through cracks.”

Read more: Stanley Travel sees 22 bookings cancelled in ONE day over Covid Omicron fears

He told The Northern Echo: “Our industry is falling through the cracks between hospitality and leisure, but we have been affected in the same way as those industries.”


The company, which has been based in Stanley for the last 60 years, has seen its revenue drop significantly as schools and major clients scrap their plans at the last minute.

On one day last week alone, the firm recorded 22 private hire cancellations with thousands of pounds worth of jobs lost, and staff forced to stand down.

He said: “Last time, the coach sector didn’t get anything, it got absolutely nothing – and this is absolutely the same scenario.

Read more: Restaurant says support 'absolutely not enough' after Rishi Sunak steps in with £6k

“What part of the leisure sector does the coach industry not fall into, we take people on day trips, we offer excursions and holidays.

"What do we have to do to fall into that group."

Under the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s emergency support package, businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors affected by Covid can apply for one-off grants of £6,000 per premises.

That comes after the Government faced intense pressure to provide urgent support to those industries following mass cancellations brought on by Omicron.

Read more: £1bn Covid business bailout with £6k grants for pubs

But for Mr Scott, the failure to include the bus and coach industry in the support package could signal the end of a number of smaller companies, who can no longer trade viably.

Explaining that smaller businesses had been left unable to repay financed vehicles and fund overheads due to lost bookings, he said: “If you are a small operator, it’s a really difficult time.

“I’ve had calls from other businesses asking if I want to buy them, he said ‘do you guys want this business,’ a business which has been operating for over 40 years. It just cannot continue.”

'Lack of government support'

Echoing fears, the Confederation of Passenger Transport last night confirmed it had written to the Chancellor urging the Government to help the bus and coach sector.

It said: “We are unfortunately hearing reports of cancellations from operators across the country at what is traditionally a very busy time of year.

"Operators had slowly begun to recover from an incredibly difficult 20 months, with significant disruption to their businesses but inexplicably a lack of government support.

“Coaches are an important part of the leisure industry and millions of visits are made each year by coach to attractions and places across the UK.

"CPT has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging Government to include coach operators in any grant funding awarded to support the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry to help protect this vital industry and the 10,000s of jobs it supports until the return of business.”

In response to the concerns raised by The Northern Echo, the Treasury said it recognised other businesses will be impacted by Omicron and that “discretionary” funding would be provided to local authorities, but did not confirm who exactly is eligible or the amount a business could apply for.

Durham County Council, which covers the registered address of Stanley Travel, said it was still awaiting details of discretionary funding following the announcement last night.

Mary Readman, head of transactional services at the council, said: “We have previously supported coach operators using the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) as through our discretionary policy.

“We are still awaiting details of the latest round of ARG funding allocation announced by the Government.

“We will then review our discretionary policy to ensure we can support as many businesses as possible through these challenging times.”


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