A HAMPSHIRE bus service was blocked in its depot yesterday after a financial dispute erupted between the firm and its mechanics.

Black Velvet Travel's Velvet A service between Hedge End and Southampton was unable to run throughout the day after large containers were placed across the gates of the depot in Chickenhall Lane, Eastleigh.

But services are back to normal today after both parties reached an agreement at a meeting last night.

Passengers using the service were told to use a rival firm and they could expect refunds if they had already bought tickets for the service.

It is understood that the blockade was put in place by Robert Ings and Shaun Noyce, co-owners of a firm of mechanics called Brenhaul Commercial Services.

Daily Echo:

Robert Ings (left) and Shaun Noyce of Brenhaul Commercial Services

The company, based in the same road, provides maintenance and mechanic services for Velvet.

Bosses of both firms were set to meet last night in a bid to resolve the problem.

When the Daily Echo visited the site yesterday afternoon, Mr Ings and Mr Noyce alleged that they are owed a “substantial” amount of money from Velvet for work they had carried out as well as yard storage - claims which the bus firm's boss Phil Stockley strenuously denies.

Mr Ings and Mr Noyce admit to taking the extreme measures in blockading the bus depot, telling our reporter the move had left them feeling “pig sick” but that they had no choice.

The pair claim that the money they say is owed to them has amounted over six months and now they are facing financial difficulties themselves.

They say they could even be forced to make redundancies.

Mr Ings said: “We have known Phil and Velvet since we started this company seven years ago and they had two buses. We grew together.

“But in the last six months Velvet has not paid us and that means we are struggling to pay our creditors and we are having to sell assets and I might have to make redundancies.”

Mr Noyce added: “We have always had a good working relationship and it's a shame it's come to this but if Velvet pay up then there's no problem.”

Mr Ings, who employs 16 people, added the blockade would remain in place until they were paid.

Yesterday Mr Stockley, Velvet's chief executive, told the Daily Echo the claims were simply not true and that he had paid Brenhaul Commercial Services the outstanding bill.

Daily Echo:

Phil Stockley of Black Velvet Travel

He told us “I have paid them this week” before adding that he had chosen not to report the matter to the police because he hoped it would be resolved “amicably”.

Mr Stockley said: “There has been a problem with the gates at our yard which have been damaged. There is just one service that is not running at the moment, which is our Hedge End to Southampton Velvet A route.”

He added: “Anyone who is unable to use that route has the Bluestar 3 service available, but if anyone has bought a ticket for our service who is unable to use it they can contact us and we will sort out a refund.”