WILTS & Dorset has lost its £1.5million contract to run Salisbury’s park and ride buses.

The service will be taken over by a family-run company from Chippenham in June.

Hatts Travel plans to bring in a new fleet of ‘green’ buses with low emissions to reduce pollution in the city.

The 20 drivers who work on park and ride will transfer to the new company with their terms of employment protected.

More changes are possible. A report is being drawn up on proposals to charge park and ride users on a per-passenger rather than a per-vehicle basis.

Wilts & Dorset managing director Alex Carter said price was the crucial factor in Wiltshire Council’s decision on the competing tenders. The council subsidised the service to the tune of £1.2million last year.

The company’s other operations in south Wiltshire are not affected.

Mr Carter said: “I am disappointed, but we can hold our heads high and say we have done a good job.”

* For an in-depth report see this Thursday’s Journal.