Crystals Coaches closes as London Councils consolidate

The latest outcome of the Triborough initiative, which has seen three West London councils combine service provision, manifested itself this week.

The Triborough initiative, which dates from October 2010, aims to save 33m by combining the back-offices and contracts of Westminster City Council, Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council, plus the Royal Borough ofKensington and Chelsea London Borough Council (RBKC)..

But despite reassurances from councillors, staff at a long-standing operator have been made redundant in the wake of the new council transport contract.

The new contracts started on Monday (28 April) and as a consequence, family-owned Crystals Coaches Ltd closed its doors on 11 April after it was excluded from the new contract.

Despite 21 years working only for RBKC, delivering special education needs (SEN) children to schools across London, the small company, employing 100 staff, was not allowed to tender for the new multi-million-pound contract.

Says MD Chris Springham: “We are devastated. We made a decision years ago to only work with RBKC, to make it personal and family-orientated, to cater for the very specific needs of the vulnerable children in our care and to ensure an excellent working relationship with parents. We have no other commercial interests. We’ve now paid the price. Without working for a further two London boroughs, we were not allowed to re-tender.”

The closure saw the redundancies of 14 staff, many long serving, including the entire management. Other staff were able to transfer to the new operators under the TUPE laws.

The new contract sees HATS/Olympic South Ltd from Wimbledon take over the majority of Crystals’ work, along with Star Bus from Barnet and Radio Taxis from North London.