St Albans friendship scheme left high and dry by coach company

The new owners of Chambers Coaches have come under fire after Stevenage pupils were left stranded an

The new owners of Chambers Coaches have come under fire after Stevenage pupils were left stranded and families out of pocket. - Credit: Archant

A learning disabilities group were forced to cancel a day at the beach after their coach failed to turn up.

St Albans and Harpenden Friendship Scheme had booked a minibus and disabled-adapted coach with Stevenage-based Chambers Coaches.

They were even assured beforehand the coach would be ready to take them to Southend-on-Sea for their day out.

Coordinator Jane Reidy said: “I spoke to them Monday, as I heard there had been problems [with the company] but they said they were fine.”

However, on Tuesday, July 18, neither the minibus or coach showed up to pick up 54 adults with learning disabilities.

When the transport didn’t show, Mrs Reidy rang Chambers Coaches and was told they’d lost the booking diary containing her phone number.

Mrs Reidy said: “It was due at 9.30am, but it got to 9.35am so I rang them, and the lady said they weren’t coming.

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“We have used them for 16 years and they never asked for my contact details because they have them.

“I don’t know why they are letting people go, and making them wait.”

The friendship scheme are the latest group to be let down by the company, which is owned by Varsity Transport Holdings.

There has been a catalogue of complaints about Chambers, including a group from Ashtree Primary School in Stevenage,who had to use a replacement firm to get home from the Isle of Wight.

Douglas Drive Day Centre in Stevenage said its stroke survivors group, plus staff and volunteers, were stranded in a car park waiting for a Chambers coach to take them for a day out in Cambridge.

Robert Krueger, Varsity Transport Holdings’ director, has apologised “profusely” to customers, and promised changes in the future.

Despite the let-down, and one man suffering a stress-induced seizure, the friendship scheme was still able to make a day of it.

Thirty-five of the group went to Brighton instead, and a few of those who use wheelchairs took a trip to Bedford.

A member of the Cell Barnes Trust who met the group at the train station has promised to donate £200 to help pay for the day trip.