Wigan bus firm faces inquiry after accident

Finches bus depot in Ince
Finches bus depot in Ince
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A well-known Wigan bus and coach company could face disciplinary action as an inquiry is held into the maintenance of its vehicles.

The Office Of The Traffic Commissioner is holding a public inquiry after an investigation into Ince-based firm FE Finch.

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The probe was launched last year by the Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency after the death of Wayne Lannon, a driver from Beech Hill who was working on a bus at Chester Zoo when it rolled on top of him.

A report was sent to the traffic commissioner stating some aspects of the investigation were unsatisfactory.

These related to the safety of the vehicles operated by FE Finch and how they were maintained.

Brian Finch, owner and transport manager, will appear at a public inquiry on Wednesday, June 13 at Stone Cross Place in Golborne.

He told the Post: “This is a routine inquiry which stemmed originally from the incident in Chester. It was a follow-up just on maintenance.”

He said he would be submitting evidence to the traffic commissioner by Wednesday, June 6 and would be speaking on his own behalf at the inquiry, rather than being represented by a solicitor.

Mr Finch, who said it would be the first time he had been before the commissioner in more than 60 years, added: “With regards to the maintenance, I think I have got one of the best facilities in Wigan and we are the longest operator.

“The team I have in place now, including myself, we have got everything in place and the systems we have got now won’t allow any incidents to slip through our hands.”

Traffic commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, and the registration of local bus services.

FE Finch’s work includes running several school bus services.

During the public inquiry, the commissioner will hear evidence from FE Finch and the investigators, before making a decision on whether any formal action should be taken.

This can range from a formal warning being recorded on the licence to a reduction in the number of vehicles they can operate or the licence being suspended for a period of time.

In the most serious cases, the licence can be revoked, which would mean the firm could not operate its vehicles, and a disqualification can be imposed to stop them being involved with commercial operations in future.

One of the matters being considered is Mr Finch’s “repute” as transport manager. If he loses his repute, he could be banned from working in the UK and across Europe.