A haulage company has collapsed with the loss of around 60 jobs.

Farndell & Gates Ltd, which trades under the name Page Group and was based in Ford, near Arundel, has gone into administration with immediate effect.

Around 40 drivers and 20 warehouse and office staff were called to a meeting to be told they were losing their jobs.

Littlehampton mayor Dr James Walsh said he was shocked by the suddenness of Page Group's collapse.

He said: "The staff were all given their redundancy notices on Friday without any warning. It's a shame because this was a long established firm which was well respected within the town and nationally and which had some big contracts."

Usually when a company goes into administration staff are kept on as administrators try to find a new buyer.

It is not know why this was not the case with Page Group. No one from the company or the administrators, London-based accountancy firm Begbies Traynor, was available to comment tonight.

The collapse is more bad news for Littlehampton, which has already seen major employers such as the Body Shop and Creative Outsourcing Solutions International (COSi), recently cut back their workforce.

Dr Walsh said: 'We have had some other job losses recently so this is a blow to Littlehampton when we are otherwise on the up as a town.

"There are other haulage contractors around here within the horticulture industry so hopefully many of the drivers who have lost their jobs will be able to find work."

Norman Dingemans, Arun District Council's cabinet member for economic regeneration and cultural development, said: "We will be seeing how we can help in finding placements for people. There was a similar situation when a company closed about five years ago and we actually managed to find everyone a new job fairly quickly."

The Page Group was founded in Littlehampton more than 60 years ago and its distinctive red lorries became a familiar feature throughout the region.

It was also heavily involved with the town's carnival and used to donate low-loader lorries to be used as floats every year.

Dr Walsh said: "We have a carnival on July and fireworks at the end of October and Page were always very helpful.

'"I don't think the events are under threat now but the organisers will need to scurry around to find other people to supply lorries and that is never easy.'"