Wigan bus firm’s licence revoked at end of the school term

A Wigan bus company responsible for taking youngsters to schools and colleges has had its licence revoked.

Ince-based FE Finch, which runs 15 services, cannot operate after 11.59pm on July 20 - the last day of the school year.

The licence at FE Finch is set to be revoked

The licence at FE Finch is set to be revoked

A public inquiry held yesterday heard the Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency launched an investigation into maintenance at the firm, based on intelligence and following the death of Wayne Lannon in June last year.

The father-of-three from Beech Hill was working on a bus at Chester Zoo when it rolled on top of him.

Vehicle examiner Graham Brock told the inquiry he visited the firm on August 3 and found a defective tyre which had been missed in an inspection three days earlier.

He was “a bit concerned” about the standard of the inspection by owner and transport manager Brian Finch.

Mr Brock said: “I think he needed a younger set of eyes to look at it.”

But he said he was convinced maintenance would improve as Mr Finch had since said inspections would be checked by a third party.

At the inquiry, Mr Finch admitted missing the defective tyre, after another bus needed to be repaired and he received a phone call.

He said: “I didn’t expect him to find the tyre defective. It had been done and I knew afterwards, after his visit I knew where my failings were.”

It was revealed that checks on inspections were now being done, but on an ad hoc basis rather than after every one, and there was no paperwork to prove it.

But it was changes to the business that ultimately led to Simon Evans, traffic commissioner for the North West, revoking Mr Finch’s licence.

It changed from being run as a sole trader to a partnership with his wife three to four years ago for tax reasons, but the licence cannot be transferred and he failed to apply for another.

Mr Evans also had concerns that Mr Finch had “spread himself too thinly” by holding many roles in the business, rather than sharing responsibility with employee Paul Schofield, who attended the hearing with him.

He revoked Mr Finch’s licence from 11.59pm on July 20, allowing for the “orderly closedown” of the business.

The firm can run until then on the basis that Mr Schofield remains there and Mr Finch resigns as transport manager immediately.

Mr Evans told Mr Finch: “After that there will be no licence in force.

“I conclude by narrow margin that your repute as an operator is still intact. The decision by you to resign as transport manager is significant in that conclusion.”

For a new licence application to be considered, he said Mr Schofield would have to do a refresher course if he intended to be transport manager, maintenance inspections would have to be done by a third party and measured brake tests would be done at every inspection.