BURY bus depot looks one step closer to closure as the first phase of a consultation period about moving operations has ended.

First Manchester announced, at the end of 2016, proposals to move operations, including all of its drivers, from its Bury and Tameside locations to three of its other depots.

No alternative proposal has been put forward to counter the plan to close the Bury depot – and if this remains the case in the next round of consultations the centre will definitely close.

Nearly 30 jobs are at risk because of the proposals, although First says services in Bury will not be effected, despite likely being run out of Bolton or Cheetham Hill, in Manchester.

But with over 300 employees working at the Bury site, in Rochdale Road, objectors say the closure will cause a knock-on negative effect for the town’s economy, with fewer people earning and spending money in the borough, even if the majority of staff will be relocated rather than made redundant.

Councillor Noel Bayley, who is Bury Council’s representative on the Transport for Greater Manchester committee, said: “Despite Bury punching above its weight for such a small depot, First haven't been able to run Bury services efficiently or reliably out of Bury depot for some time now, so I'm not sure what makes them think they'll do a better job running them from another town.

“Drivers also expressed their concerns to me because they see the Bury depot as a community which, should it close, will be lost forever.”

Managing director at First Manchester, Phil Medlicott, said the announcement was made to staff and the Unite Trade Union on Monday.

He said: “Following the first phase of consultations it has been decided that we will continue with our proposal to relocate operations from Bury and Tameside to our other depots across Greater Manchester.

“We are continuing to keep all staff updated with progress, but if no alternative proposal is forthcoming over the next phase of consultations, then we will close the Bury and Tameside depots at the end of April.

“All operations and the majority of staff will also transfer and we remain committed to keeping redundancies to a minimum.

“We’d like to remind customers that the proposal to relocate operations will not impact services in Bury and Tameside, as we will continue to operate services in these areas.”