THE private bus company which has provided daily transport for thousands of Hinkley Point C workers over the past five years has handed over its half share of the business to the First Bus group in a deal said to be worth up to £10 million, it was announced this week.

First Group subsidiary First South West Ltd has taken full control of Somerset Passenger Solutions which started in 2016 as a joint venture between First Bus and Somerset-based JJP Holdings (South West) Ltd and which has grown from small beginnings to a company with 157 vehicles, 450 staff and an annual revenue of around £37 million.

SPS now runs shuttle services seven days a week to and from the power station site. A First Bus spokesman said the purchase of the remaining 50 per cent of SPS shares was part of the company’s strategy to develop and grow its share of the business-to-business services market.

The gross assets of SPS were reported to be £9.62 million and the profits attributable to it were £3.95 million in December 2020.

Jonathan Jones-Pratt, JJPH managing director, who won the original Hinkley Point bus transport contract ten years ago, said he was “immensely proud” that the business he started had been taken to new levels by the joint venture with First Bus and had enabled thousands of workers to travel to and from the site efficiently and safely.

Mr Jones-Pratt, who is also chairman of the West Somerset Railway, said he felt it was the right time to conclude the sale and step back from the SPS business. He said the deal was a significant milestone which would bring many benefits to JJPH and provide the group with funds to continue our “wider visions of business development.”

He paid tribute to employees who had worked “hard and diligently” over the years and for everyone involved in bringing this “remarkable development” to West Somerset and making a positive contribution to the community.

Registered in Weston-Super-Mare, JJPH’s business portfolio includes vintage bus and steam vehicle hire, heavy haulage, insurance products, plant hire and steam engine restoration.

First Bus portfolio managing director Joe Thompson told the media that the rise of SPS in the past five years had been extraordinary and the team had established and grown a first-class operation.

He thanked Mr Jones-Pratt and his team for their energy and drive as partners in the joint venture and added: “We are excited about the future and continuing to ensure safe, sustainable and efficient transport for Hinkley Point workers and look forward to leading SPS to further growth and success.”