AN INVESTIGATION has been launched by Avon and Somerset Police into the collapse of Somerset bus operator WebberBus.

As reported in the Gazette, the bus company folded suddenly in early May, with around 120 staff losing their jobs.

The company was first launched more than 50 years ago in West Somerset, before moving to a new depot in Bridgwater. The firm ran services across Somerset, but mainly in West Somerset and Bridgwater.

The closure of the business was labelled a disaster by one county councillor.
Now, police are investigating the business, regarding financial irregularities at the firm after it was referred to them by Somerset County Council.

A police statement said: “An allegation of financial irregularity involving a transport company has been reported to our economic crime team, who will be looking into the matter.”

Following the collapse of the firm, 120 staff – including drivers, workshop and administration workers – lost their jobs.

A spokesman for Begbies Traynor, the specialist business rescue company drafted in following WebberBus’ demise, confirmed the company that it had now been formally placed into administration.

However, the spokesman added he was unaware of any investigation surrounding the company.

Cllr David Fothergill, cabinet member for highways and transport at Somerset County Council, confirmed the council it had referred the case to police.

He said: “We cannot give any detail, but I can say that following WebberBus ceasing to operate we have referred a case to the police.

“I can also confirm that no member of County Council staff has been investigated or implicated in this case.

Speaking at the time the closure was announced, Labour county councillor for Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman, described the news as “‘devastating’”.

Local operator The Buses of Somerset is assisting Somerset County Council to help keep the routes, which include a number of school bus services, running.

Following the closure, Taunton Deane MP, Rebecca Pow, said: “My sympathies go out to all those whose jobs are affected by this news.