A bus operator in Cornwall has announced plans to close one of its outstation depots at the end of this month.

Cornwall by Kernow, which is part of First Group, has revealed that on July 28, the outstations in Helston (located by Sainsbury’s garage) will close to allow the business to run more ‘cost-effectively.’

The company said that all bus services that previously operated from the Helston location would transfer to Cornwall by Kernow’s depots in Falmouth and Penzance.

It has also reassured passengers that they can expect an ‘uninterrupted service’ and school contracts will continue to remain the same from the neighbouring depots.

Operations director for Cornwall by Kernow Rebecca Mantyk has explained why the outstation in Helston will close. She said: “We are committed to serving our communities in Cornwall and continue to work closely through our partnership with Cornwall Council as part of the Transport for Cornwall to provide bus services for customers in the county.

“To run our business in the most cost-effective way, we’re proposing the closure of Helston outstation.

“This won’t mean any job cuts, and every driver currently based at Helston is being given the option to transfer to our neighbouring depots in Penzance and Falmouth.”

Meanwhile, tensions are rising within the bus industry in the South West, with The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers trade union (RMT) union announcing a 48-hour strike for First South West members starting on Tuesday, July 23.

The union said that the strike follows extensive negotiations and a vote in favour of industrial action by more than 300 RM members after a failed attempt to secure an acceptable offer over pay. 

The union claimed that despite numerous meetings, including sessions facilitated by ACAS, First South West’s proposals were overwhelmingly rejected in a member referendum.

It also said that the company’s latest offer was deemed ‘insufficient’, particularly in light of First Group’s recent profit announcements.

Welcoming the ballot result, RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch said: “Our members have sent a clear message to First South West; they will not accept being amongst the lowest paid transport workers in the region.

"The company's offer to hard-working staff is particularly insulting given the huge pay-outs given to First Group boss Graham Sutherland.

"If First Group can find £800k in bonuses for top management, they can find money for bus workers.

“RMT has expressed frustration with First South West's approach throughout and will now seek to set strike dates if a negotiated settlement cannot be found in the meantime.”

Mr Lynch added: "We call on First South West to return to the negotiating table with a meaningful offer that reflects the dedication and hard work of our members."

However, First South West said they were "disappointed" by the proposed strike action and how it will affect the lives of customers. 

A spokesperson said: "We are disappointed at RMT members’ decision to announce strike action in Cornwall and Somerset on 23 and 24 July 2024. This will cause disruption to the daily lives of our customers who rely on the bus to get to work, education, and appointments.

“We have been working hard to agree on a pay settlement and have already made a substantial offer of 5% for all pay grades, which follows a significant pay increase of 17.6% in December 2022.

“Discussions with the RMT continue and we are focused on trying to avoid any industrial action. We urge our RMT Union colleagues involved to halt the action and to continue to engage with us.

"In the meantime, we are concentrating on minimising disruption for our passengers. We will provide further updates over the coming days”.