Safety fear as wheel comes off school bus

A COACH firm still being used to transport school children in the Capital has been suspended from two similar contracts in the Borders after a wheel fell off one of its buses while pupils were on board.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th May 2012, 1:02 pm

Loanhead-based McKendry Coaches was taking pupils from Peebles High in the Borders to West Linton when the wheel fell off and rolled past the bus.

Today, one West Linton parent, whose child was on the bus, said pupils could hear a “loud grinding noise” after the wheel came loose.

The parent, who asked not to be named, said: “The kids were on the ride back from school and were aware of a bang at the back of the bus, then they saw one of the wheels go past.

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“The coach had a double axle and another wheel collapsed underneath it.”

No children were hurt in last Wednesday’s incident, which was attended by police and is being investigated by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). But Scottish Borders Council responded by suspending two school contracts run by McKendry.

It is understood Edinburgh City Council will not be re-evaluating its contract but has written to the firm to reiterate its contractual obligations.

Last month, McKendry had two of its vehicles, which were used for school contracts in Edinburgh and the Borders, banned from the road for six months after they were found to be poorly maintained.

McKendry was also found guilty of breaching its licence conditions.

A city council spokesman said: “The safety of our children is our highest priority and all of our contractors have to adhere to our strict safety requirements.

“In light of this incident, we have contacted the bus company to reiterate their contractual obligations and to advise them that we carry out spot checks on vehicles used by contractors.”

Liz Carrie, a member of the parent council at Balerno High School, said McKendry coaches had been used at the school. She said: “The council is to continue using this coach company, despite a wheel falling off a vehicle with children on it at the time.

“If one vehicle is not properly maintained it suggests there may be something not quite right with the firm’s safety procedures.”

When approached by the Evening News, McKendry Coaches declined to comment, but Anne McKendry, one of the firm’s transport managers told our sister paper, The Midlothian Advertiser: “The driver never thought the wheel was loose. He thought it was a blow-out.”

Scottish Borders Council said it was awaiting the results of a full investigation by VOSA and the police but confirmed two school contracts had been suspended.