A County Durham bus depot where more than 100 drivers are employed will close down later this year despite a ferocious campaign to save it.

Go North East has today confirmed that the depot in Chester-le-Street will shut for good in September after a last-minute deal was agreed.

It means that planned strike action for tomorrow will no longer go ahead, marking the end of a lengthy battle to keep the Picktree Lane site open.

Read more: Go North East Chester-le-Street drivers given offer to avoid strikes

Workers have since expressed their sadness, saying it is the "end of an era" for those who have worked at the site for a number of years - some even decades.

The Northern Echo: Picture: GO NORTH EASTPicture: GO NORTH EAST (Image: GO NORTH EAST)

A spokesperson for Go North East said: "We can confirm that the potential industrial action planned from August 12 that may have affected our routes operating from Chester-le-Street depot has now been called off, following the acceptance of our revised colleague offer.

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"All services will now continue to operate as normal."

Had strikes been approved, a number of bus services including the Angel 21 between Newcastle and Brandon and X21 between Newcastle and Bishop Auckland.

A compensatory package of £2,250 to existing drivers was previously agreed but a severance package for those nearing retirement was this week approved.

The Northern Echo: Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTPicture: SARAH CALDECOTT

But it is bittersweet for some workers with one saying the team is extremely saddened after learning of the final decision.

One worker said: "It's a double-edged sword, the best outcome for the drivers who are displaced but a hammer blow to Chester-le-Street that all staff are working on site are upset by."

Other drivers praised the efforts of the union for the agreed deal in lieu of the depot's closure.

Another worker said: "The drivers put up a fight and we ended up getting a relocation package which was acceptable. We probably wouldn't have been offered this without the work of our union reps." 

Responding, Unite the Union confirmed the details of an agreement that had been made following the threat of strike action.

Mark Sanderson, Unite regional coordinating officer, said: “Despite the objections of the union and its members and the local community, Go North East is determined to press ahead with its damaging plans to close the Chester-le-Street depot. 

“Following lengthy negotiations, the staff at the Chester-le-Street depot have accepted a beneficial severance package for those workers who want to leave their employment and a compensatory scheme for those moving to other workplaces.”

The depot closure has been slammed in recent months from businesses, members of the public and politicians. 

Fears over the relocation of hundreds of jobs out of the town have been widespread with many saying they town will suffer in the long-term.

Labour MPs Mary Foy and Kevan Jones have previously urged Go North East to reverse the decision to shut the depot.

Go North East previously blamed financial challenges including the pandemic, a pay claim amid the cost of living crisis and also the cost to keep the "aging" building reopen.

They previously said: "As has been reported in the local media, our Chester-le-Street depot will sadly be closing from September with all routes relocating to other depots.

"This following the our recent service changes, adapting to reduced use of bus services in some areas following changes to the way people work, shop and socialise.

"The change also helps us manage the impact of rising costs and protects vital local services for customers who rely on public transport, recognising that it’s crucial to continue to offer a bus network that delivers for customers as the cost of driving becomes more expensive."


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