COUNCIL chiefs have come to the rescue of hundreds of pupils in Somerset after a bus firm pulled out of school transport contracts.

Coombs Travel, based in Weston-super-Mare, told County Hall it would not be providing services for the authority from October 4 because it has gone into administration. Somerset County Council has stepped in to organise alternative transport for four schools – including The King Alfred School in Highbridge.

More than 330 children from The King Alfred School, Kings of Wessex Secondary School and Fairlands Middle School, both in Cheddar and Hugh Sexey Church of England Middle School, in Blackford, travelled to school on different buses provided at short notice after the shock announcement.

A council spokesman said: “After hearing the news that Coombs Travel would no longer be operating the school bus services, we quickly made temporary arrangements so bus services could still run.

“We informed parents of children affected by text message in the morning so there was no panic when a different bus appeared to pick up children. A temporary bus provider has been found and will provide services for all four schools until the end of October.”

Councillor John Woodman, cabinet member for highways and transport at the council, said the company’s shock announcement left the council in an “unfortunate” position and said the authority has done everything it can to avoid disruption.

The council is in the process of offering bus contracts to a number of firms and expects replacements in place after Half Term.

A spokesman for The King Alfred School said: “We were sad to hear that Coombs Travel has gone into administration. However, replacement buses for students have been put in place by Somerset County Council.”

Coombs Travel has been contacted but declined to comment.