A FAMILY-RUN taxi company that has been in business for 65 years is set to make all 74 of its staff redundant this week.

Pryors Cars of Didcot said its business had been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic – particularly its core market of business travellers.

The company confirmed the news this week after people contacted this paper several weeks ago raising the alarm about rumours around the business, and said they were concerned about redundancy payments.

The firm has now said it will make all its redundancy payments as well as holiday payments, but one customer has said the closure of the company is 'heartbreaking'.

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In a statement, company co-owner David Pryor said: "After a full consultation with the employees of Pryors Cars Limited, we unfortunately have had to issue all of the company’s 74 employees with redundancy notices effective of Friday, July 31.

"This follows the dramatic impact Covid-19 has had on business, particularly our core market of business travellers.

"However, other companies in the group of companies owned by the Pryor family will continue trading, serving the public of Didcot as six consecutive generations of the family have done for 188 years."

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He added: "Our employees are our only significant creditors and there are substantial funds available to go towards the costs of the redundancy, notice and holiday payments.

"We are assured that any further shortfall will be covered by the Government’s National Insurance Fund."

The company on Mereland Road in Didcot was originally founded by Basil Pryor in 1955 and it is now owned by his daughter and son Caroline and David.

One long-time customer of the business said they were concerned for the staff after hearing a rumour that they might not all get their full redundancy payments.

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They said: “I have my sympathy with all the staff.

"Their drivers and control room colleagues have always been a credit to them, helping myself and the company I work for out of difficult situations, be it here in Oxfordshire or at the airports.

"I know David and Caroline have built the business up from their father and to see their business collapse via no fault of their own is heartbreaking."

They also said they had been told that staff were not being paid for a full notice period, and so would have to fall back on Government National Insurance payments.

However, Pryors said it would be paying its staff redundancy and holiday payments and that the company had ‘substantial funds’.

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The Pryor family will also still be offering taxi and executive car hire services through other companies which they own.

In addition to their other companies, a company called Umbrella Travel group was registered by the Pryor family recently.

David Pryor said: “It is currently a dormant company and it will continue to be so at the present time.”

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Although the Pryor family has other taxi companies, the owners said they did not want to make any promises about offering any of the 74 redundant workers new jobs.

David Pryor said: "We do not wish to give any indication that we could offer future employment opportunities to former employees.

"If we were to suffer a further lockdown then any plans would be firmly on hold for the foreseeable future.

He added: "This is a very stressful for our employees and the Pryor family, any false hope would be unfair at this time."