It should be noted that Edwards Bros Coaches of Tiers Cross has no connection with any other coach or bus operator in Wales of a similar name, including Edwards Coaches of Llantrisant, which remains in family ownership.
Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) has completed the purchase of the assets of Edwards Bros Coaches of Tiers Cross. The move allows the local authority (LA) to “maintain its statutory duty to provide public and school transport” and to reduce costs “as part of an invest to save strategy,” it says.
Conclusion of the deal ends a long-running affair that began in 2021 when “it became clear that the operator was planning to withdraw from the bus market,” PCC continues. At that time, the county had lost five operators in the prior seven years, including Silcox Coaches of Pembroke Dock in 2016.
The potential withdrawal of Edwards Bros Coaches caused concern with the LA that a retendering exercise in a smaller market and with accelerating operational expenditure could have led it to incur “substantial increased costs for the same services.”
Loss of a further operator would have created a “high risk” that others would not be found for all of Edwards Bros’ contracts had it exited the market. That could have forced PCC to bring more work in-house but without suitable facilities to do so. The Edwards purchase includes its operating centre.
Papers from a PCC Cabinet meeting on 10 January 2022 show that at that point, it was paying Edwards Bros a claimed annual sum of “in the region of £900,000” for 23 home-to-school routes and six public services. PCC estimated that retendering would have seem an increase of £300,000 on that.
PCC’s Cabinet backed the acquisition of the Edwards Bros assets at that meeting a year ago. Since then, the LA has undertaken “a huge piece of due diligence.” Completion of the deal came in December 2022. PCC already operates some contracts in-house, which the LA previously said was a practice that had been initiated where “there is no competition, or, in fact, no interest” from commercial operators.
Speaking about the conclusion of the purchase, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services Cllr Rhys Sinnett says: “We have a statutory duty to provide these important services in as sustainable and cost-effective a way as possible. In this case, that has been to bring these assets in-house.
“Former Edwards Bros staff are now being employed by the council, with management being undertaken by existing officers from within the Transport Department who have the necessary qualification to manage a bus company.
“I would like to thank officers in the council for the hard work done on the due diligence, and the former proprietor of Edwards Bros and his team for reaching this milestone. It is especially poignant for Mr Edwards, given the family run nature of the business over many years.”
Edwards Bros Coaches held an international O-Licence for 34 vehicles, with Robert Edwards and Jayne Edwards as its Directors. That licence is currently under consideration for surrender, according to the Vehicle Operator Licencing Service. In its papers of 10 January 2022, PCC said it was to operate the acquired services under both Section 19 and Section 22 community bus permits.
The business was founded in 1946 as a garage, later moving to operating a private hire car before the arrival of the first minicoach and coach in the 1960s.