Wiltshire Council drops Denwell Coaches after bus fire

Rows of bus seats
Routes to a number of schools across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire have ceased with immediate effect

A council has stopped using a school transport provider after a coach fire.

Wiltshire Council said it was no longer working with Denwell Mini Coaches Ltd, which had its licence revoked by the traffic commissioner.

The order is due to come into effect on 31 March, but the council said it had decided to end its agreement early following a fire.

Denwell Mini Coaches Ltd has been approached for comment.

Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council, said the "safety of the pupils we transport to and from school is of paramount importance".

The company, also known as Denwell Coaches, had been providing transport to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy and Bradon Forest School in Purton on behalf of the council.

The firm had its licence revoked due to concerns about the maintenance of its fleet, with the traffic commissioner's report finding a number of its vehicles were old, had "dangerous defects" and had failed MOTs.

In the report, the commissioner said he was satisfied remedial measures the company had put in place would keep the vehicles safe for a short period until 31 March.

On Friday, Wiltshire Council said it had previously taken advice from the commissioner and was using Denwell Coaches on the basis the vehicles were safe.

"Since that decision, Denwell Coaches' sister operation, Igobus, suffered a coach fire in Gloucestershire, and so the council has taken the decision to stop using Denwell Coaches for any school transport with immediate effect," Mr Clewer said.

He added he would not speculate on the cause of the fire.

The council is working to secure alternative transport for children after the half-term break.

Denwell Coaches also provided transport for children attending Gloucestershire schools such as Pates Grammar School, Marling School and Stroud High School.

In a recorded answerphone message heard on Friday by the BBC, Denwell Coaches said: "Due to schools giving out information claiming that we are not continuing to operate and creating a social media frenzy that has followed, our school routes have become inoperable with immediate effect.

"Due to the unacceptable abuse levelled at our staff on Friday we have taken the decision to deal with customer enquiries by email only."

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