PARENTS have launched a petition demanding the reinstatement of a bus company which has taken their children to school for over two decades after it lost its contract.

Families whose children attend two secondary schools in East Lothian were stunned to discover that local firm Prentice Coaches would no longer be used to transport the youngsters when schools return after the summer.

The news was broken to them by Prentice, which is based in Haddington, last week, sparking a furious reaction from a number of parents.

Now a petition has been launched calling for Prentice to have the contract, which has allegedly been awarded to a rival firm, given back.

One mother whose children attend Knox Academy in Haddington and are bussed in from Gifford said that she was shocked by the news.

She said: “Prentice have been looking after our children for 21 years and they are being replaced with no consultation or discussion.

“Parents know the drivers and trust them to look after their children.

“It is beyond belief that the council would simply put a different company in place without even consulting with the families affected.”

A petition calling for the return of Prentice has collected more than 230 signatures since it was launched online.

It says: “Prentice provide a community service where parents feel reassured and comfortable putting their children on the buses.

“We believe East Lothian [Council] has chosen to put cost over service and safety.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the current service.

“This is simply a cost-cutting exercise which could potentially put our children at risk.”

Prentice provided bus services for Knox Academy and North Berwick High School but has now lost the contract for those services.

Ross Prentice, the company boss, admitted that he was “disappointed” by the council’s decision.

The company said: “It is a sad day. We have operated the Knox routes continuously for over 21 years.

“We would like to thank all the pupils and parents who we have transported over the years for being so friendly and their excellent behaviour, and wish the current pupils all the best for their futures.”

A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “As the previous contract had expired, the council was required to carry out an open procurement process to appoint an operator for the service.

“As the contract is yet to be formally awarded, we cannot provide further detail at this stage.

“However, we can assure families that tenders have been assessed in line with all requirements, standard procedure and quality criteria. In the event of a new operator being appointed, other aspects of the service will be unchanged.”

The petition can be found at