Busman fined £1.2k for unfit school bus
A BREADY bus operator who has been involved in a long-running dispute with the Department of the Environment (DoE) over southern bus firms operating this side of the border has been fined £1,250 and ordered to pay £34 court costs for using a school bus in a dangerous condition.
William Leonard T/A Leonard Travel of Donagheady Road, Bready was convicted of using a bus in a dangerous condition, following a compliance roadside check that revealed a list of mechanical defects including a defective steering joint and insecure road wheel.
On February 6, 2012, Enforcement Officers from the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) inspected a number of buses being used for home to school transport in Londonderry.
Following an inspection of a bus operated by Mr Leonard it was concluded that owing to the defects present it could not continue its
journey and an immediate prohibition was imposed restricting its movement until a road wheel was made secure.
The vehicle’s PSV Licence was also suspended on grounds that it was deemed unfit for service.
Mr Leonard has been involved in a long-running dispute with the DoE over the encroachment of Donegal bus firms into the local home-to-school bus run market.
He has claimed that up to 90 per cent of Western Education and Library Board (WELB) private hire Home to School transport tenders in Londonderry and its hinterland from Strabane to Claudy were held by ROI firms.
Back in September 2011 Mr Leonard told the Sentinel the local home to school market was sewn up by southern firms and argued this could be in breach of a European Commission (EC) ‘cabotage’ directive which governs the operation of the international market for bus and coach hire services in the EU.
Last June he forced the DoE into a major U-turn over the uninhibited influx of Donegal firms into Londonderry and Minister Alex Attwood admitted that the free-for-all did not comply with European Law.
But now Mr Attwood says the European Commission has given its opinion that some cross-border home to school bus contracts - specifically one year contracts extendable for two further years - are in compliance with European Law, and that companies operating them don’t have to register in NI.
Speaking to the Sentinel after the court case on February 21, Mr Leonard said he would continue to argue that the DoE was not fulfilling its obligations under EU law to protect NI operators from encroachment by firms from outside the jurisdiction.
Referring to the fine against him, Mr Leonard told the Sentinel he disputed the court’s finding against him. He claimed the wheel nuts on the offending bus were not loose.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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