Duff & Phelps secures accessible transport firms

24 July 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

Following the administration of a group of charities providing transport in rural areas, Duff & Phelps has announced that it has found a buyer. According to the firm, the deal will allow the West Midlands organisation to continue with the long-term provision of its services.

In March 2019, more than 700 jobs were put at risk after a West Midlands transport group entered administration. Accessible Transport Group, Ring and Ride West Midlands and Accessible Transport Group Contract Services appointed Matthew Ingram and Tyrone Courtman, both of Duff & Phelps, as joint administrators amid a wider crunch for the UK’s third sector, with many charities currently suffering the effects of a noted downturn in donations and government support.

Together the three charities constitute the largest accessible transport provider in the UK, operating over 600 vehicles from nine depots across the West Midlands. Accessible Transport Group, Ring and Ride West Midlands and Accessible Transport Group Contract Services provide transportation services for people in the West Midlands who experience mobility impairment or social isolation in urban and rural environments.

Accessible Transport Group is the group holding company and holds all property assets as well as providing head office functions, while Ring and Ride West Midlands unsurprisingly provides the ring and ride service in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. The third operation – ATG Contract Services – is a home-to-school service on behalf of Birmingham City Council and also operated subsidised Bus Routes under the IGo Brand in collaboration with Transport for West Midlands.

Duff & Phelps secures accessible transport firms

Ingram and Courtman quickly ensured there would be new funding for the services the charities provide to ensure those who rely upon their services were not hit by disruption. The Duff & Phelps administrators agreed funding from Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands to maintain the day-to-day services that the charities provide in March. Now, the professionals look to have secured the future of the charities on a permanent basis.

According to Ingram, a deal has been negotiated which will hopefully see the three charities able to continue their operations in the long-run. In a statement issued by Duff & Phelps, Ingram said that the administrators were now “advising the union and the employees” on the details of the proposed sale of the charities to “a national transport provider.”

Ingram, added, “The deal we have negotiated will provide a stable financial platform, ensuring the long-term provision of these vital services across the West Midlands… This could not have been achieved without the support of all the employees, Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands, ensuring a continued service whilst the joint administrators explored the viable options following their appointment… [We] will now seek to conclude the sale as soon as practicably possible to provide certainty to them and all users of the services they provide.”

The buyer has since been revealed to be National Express. The three groups will now continue to operate as West Midlands Accessible Transport, a subsidiary of the national transport giant, with all staff retained and due to receive the Real Living Wage as part of National Express’ commitment to the campaign.

David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said, "I'm very happy to be welcoming ATG employees into the National Express family of businesses. We are fully committed to this company – we’ll be investing in the service, including innovative technology for safer journeys, and most importantly, in the people.”