A NORTH EAST MP has penned a furious letter to the boss of Go North East after announcing plans to close down a major depot, affecting hundreds of jobs.

Labour MP for North Durham blasted the bus company's "insulting" attitude to staff and the wider community after finding out about the plans earlier this week.

Go North East is set to close the depot on Picktree Lane, which has been open for more than 100 years, in several weeks' time.

Read more: Go North East to close major depot in County Durham affecting hundreds of staff

In his letter to Managing Director Martijn Gilbert, which he has shared publicly, he raises deep concerns at the closure which will see drivers asked to transfer elsewhere.

The Northern Echo:

What the letter says

It reads: "Following your recent announcements slashing bus services that my constituents rely on, I find your proposals to close the bus depot in Chester-le-Street deeply concerning.

"These proposals will have a significant impact on your employees, many of whom will have to travel further to get to work, on what you openly admit will be a much smaller bus network.

"Whilst I note your comments about the level of investment that the site needs, it is clearly going to be very difficult to convert it for an alternative use.

"At a time when we need more than ever to be bringing people into Chester-le-Street, you are actively removing over a hundred employees from our town. Your approach to consultation also leaves a lot to be desired.

"Given your frankly catastrophic failure to engage with local communities, it is insulting to your employees, to your customers and to other stakeholders to open a ‘consultation’ on something you have very clearly already decided to proceed with.

The Northern Echo: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

"In light of the above, it is also very difficult to believe your assurances that these changes will not have an impact on services for your customers and for my constituents."

Under the plans to shut the depot, drivers and engineering staff will be given the opportunity to transfer to neighbouring depots in Sunderland, Washington, Consett or Gateshead.

However, workers have told The Echo that they fear being made jobless unless they relocate, in some cases up to 12 miles away from the depot in Chester-le-Street.

One worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said staff had been left "gutted" and "devastated" by the company's decision and said: "Many (workers) don't have cars as they live locally.

Go North East faced huge backlash earlier this week as workers revealed they found out their depot was closing in letters that were "dropped" on canteen tables, minutes before the management made a "swift" exit.

Read more: Drivers left 'disgusted' at way they were told Go North East depot would close

The approach was highly condemned as workers said they were left "disgusted" and without management present for support.

On social media, hundreds of people shared their anger at not only the closure but the way the announcement had been delivered to workers.

In response to the latest concerns, a spokesperson for Go North East said: "The formal consultation process is underway to work through the detail of the proposals, but we have given an assurance to driving and workshop engineering team colleagues that there will be no redundancies.

"Their pay, and terms and conditions will be fully protected when moving to our other depots in the area."


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