Urgent plans to provide Ripon bus service after death of company owner

Ripon City Council will discuss transport plans at its full meeting on September 11.
Ripon City Council will discuss transport plans at its full meeting on September 11.

Urgent plans are being made to provide a Ripon bus service, following the death of Shaun McGowan, of Shaun’s Minibuses and Coach Hire.

Mr McGowan held over 30 contracts with North Yorkshire County Council, including two local bus services and school transport.

A statement published by the council on Saturday said the company is now “not in a position to continue to provide the services.”

The statement said: “The county council has been working urgently over the last two days to secure alternative providers of taxi and bus services in the Ripon and Harrogate areas. This follows the sudden death of one of the council’s valued and long-standing contractors.

“Shaun McGowan held over 30 contracts with the council which consisted of two local bus services and a combination of special educational needs and mainstream school transport.

“His company, which traded as SP McGowan taxi and minibus hire with the council, is not in a position to continue to provide the services. The county council has therefore been making every effort to work with alternative providers to run the services from Monday for the start of the autumn school term.”

North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools, Coun Patrick Mulligan, said on Saturday: “Our sympathy and thoughts are with Shaun’s family at this very sad time.

“We are also mindful that the new school year begins next week and we have been making every effort to work with other providers to secure services.

“We have also contacted parents and schools about the situation as a matter of urgency and will keep all interested parties updated with further detail of arrangements.”

The county council said its officers have worked with alternative providers to cover most of the contracts, and said: “Officers are confident that all pupils affected will have the means to get to school on Monday.”

Ripon city councillor Peter Horton said: “We need to do something about it. This is a very important bus service, I know from my own area, the south side of Ripon, that I see groups of elderly people waiting for buses regularly and it is essential.

“It’s well used by people with no cars too. This is a serious issue for Ripon.”

At a Ripon City Council meeting on Monday, September 11, coun Horton will propose introducing a privately funded bus service.

He said: “It has been run very successfully in the Upper Dales. We will discuss this as an agenda item at the meeting.”

County council supported local bus services

From September 4

Service 153: Thirsk to Northallerton will be operated by Hodgson Coach Operators Ltd

Service 147: Ripon to Thirsk will be operated by Dales & District

There are no changes to either timetable or route on both services.

Commercial Ripon city service

The council said: "At the present time no operators have expressed an interest in taking this service over. This service was previously operated on a commercial basis without financial support from the council. This service will not operate until further notice."

For updates on the bus services, including information about transport for schools, visit: www.northyorks.gov.uk/transportnews