A Moray MP has raised concerns about coach operators losing money due to an ongoing legal wrangle over school bus contracts.
The council is currently embroiled in a battle with a bus operator believed to have failed in its bid during the tendering process.
The local authority is understood to have been served with a writ although no details of the complaint are available.
Douglas Ross has now expressed concerns that local bus companies are facing significant losses because the council cannot issue full-term agreements with transport companies until the issue is resolved.
Mr Ross said: “I immediately raised this issue when a local coach operator contacted me. The company was concerned that having understood they had won the contract, and invested in their business to deliver the service, they now stood to lose out financially due to the tendering process being disrupted by a legal challenge. This seems extremely unfair.”
Temporary transport arrangements have been put in place by the council.
A spokesman for Moray Council said: “We are currently working with contractors to ensure that sufficient provision will be in place for the start of the school term and that the procurement process will restart with a view to awarding longer terms contracts in the new year.
“All offers made were subject to a standstill period and bidders were advised that anything they undertook at that time was at their own risk as no formal contracts had been offered or accepted. The council has no liability for commercial decisions made by bidders.”
Conservative MP Mr Ross was concerned that coach operators would now think twice about applying for school transport contracts due to the controversy.
He said: “While this may be true in legal terms it seems very unfair to operators who understood they had been successful.
“They were left with a very short time-frame to organise the service and had no choice but to move ahead with their arrangements which included making sure they had the right number of coaches and drivers. I’m concerned that coach operators will now think twice before they bid in the future which will be bad for everyone concerned.”