Bus firm axed over unlawful school service

Dalkieth schools community campus
Dalkieth schools community campus
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A CITY coach company has been refused an operator’s licence after it emerged it had unlawfully run a school bus service.

Owner Colin Livingstone, of Clarks Coaches admitted that “greed got the better of him” when he was investigated by the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland.

The commissioner, Joan Aitken, said: “Had there been an accident involving this school run, then there would have been great upset and very legitimate queries as to how such circumstances had been allowed to occur.”

Ms Aitken rejected an application by Clarks Coaches for an “international public service vehicle operator licence”, having called Mr Livingstone and another Edinburgh transport operator, MacBackpackers Ltd, to a public inquiry earlier this month. She had received an “adverse” report from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) regarding the company.

VOSA examiners had carried out a vehicle check at Dalkeith High School in November 2010, during which they checked a vehicle displaying the name “Clarks Coaches” but which displayed an operator licence belonging to MacBackpackers.

Ms Aitken heard that the contract for the school run was held by Duddingston Private Hire, but the company’s owner believed he had sub-contracted the work to MacBackpackers.

This had been arranged through Mr Livingstone, who was MacBackpackers’ transport manager at the time. However, without the knowledge of MacBackpackers, Mr Livingstone was using its operator licence disc on a vehicle belonging to Clarks Coaches – the company he had set up three months earlier, and for which he was in the process of applying for his own licence.

At the public inquiry, Mr Livingstone accepted the evidence and conceded that greed had got the better of him. He has since resigned from MacBackpackers, which is in the process of appointing a new transport manager.

Ms Aitken refused Mr Livingstone’s application for an operator licence for lack of repute.

In making her decision, Ms Aitken said: “Mr Colin Livingstone duped Mr Derek Wilkinson of Duddingston Travel, who unwittingly allowed an unlawful operator to carry schoolchildren from Danderhall to Dalkeith High School. Mr Wilkinson appears to have relied on his social contact with Mr Livingstone and to have trusted him.

“I find Mr Livingstone as having crossed the line and he has lost his repute as transport manager.”

A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: “It was noted in the judgement that Midlothian Council carry out regular checks with VOSA on vehicles carrying out our school transport contracts. As a result, illegal use of a disc was uncovered, resulting in the immediate removal of the operator.”

A contact number could not be obtained for Clarks Coaches and nobody from MacBackpackers was available for