The firm has an O-Licence for 60 vehicles and ran a mix of coaches and buses. Its owners has applied for a new O-Licence for what appears to be a ‘phoenix’ operation.
It told North Yorkshire County Council on Friday afternoon (19 January) that it would not be able to run its contracts. It failed to tell its private hire customers, who only discovered things had gone wrong when vehicles failed to turn up.
It is the second time in two years that a business owned by Ian Peacock, 54, has failed and left its staff and customers in the lurch.
His 23-vehicle Tees Valley Luxury Coaches Ltd, based in Eaglescliffe, suddenly closed days before Christmas in 2012. It ran local buses and schools contracts in addition to the Middlesbrough Football Club team coach.
Along with his wife Jennifer Peacock, 30, Mr Peacock bought Stephensons in August 2016. He used Billingham, Teesside-based holding company Newbury Coach Travel Ltd, owned 50-50 by the couple, to buy the business. Newbury Coach Travel does not operate vehicles.
Mrs Peacock is Stephensons’ transport manager.
Stephensons’ family firm’s former directors stood down in December 2016, and the last ‘legacy’ director, Jonathan Hill, resigned in November 2017.
The Peacocks jointly own North East Bus and Coach Ltd, and on 22 December 2017 submitted an application for a 45-vehicle O-Licence based at Eaglescliffe and Stephensons’ Easingwold yard. The application is under consideration, but observers have suggested that it may be a ‘phoenix’ poised to take over Stephensons work, possibly on a pre-pack basis, but the latter’s collapse came to soon.
In the aftermath, Transdev took over three of the four commercial bus routes, while the council placed emergency contracts with 13 operators – Procters Coaches, Abbotts of Leeming, Compass Royston, Winns Bros, Esk Valley Coaches, Reliance Motor Services, Harrogate Coach Travel, Morse Coaches, York Pullamn, Perrys, PNP Coaches, EYMS and Harrogate Coach Travel – to cover the school work. York Pullman transported some private hire customers who were abandoned, after they got in touch.
The council was unable to cover six contracted bus routes, now out for emergency tenders. One has been taken on commercially by Connexionsbuses.