School buses fail checks

(First Edition)

COACHES carrying children to school have been ordered off the road in Somerset after spot checks revealed a catalogue of faults.

One bus had a wheel with six out of 10 bolts loose when it was inspected yesterday. Faulty axles, steering mechanisms and loose seats were also discovered during the checks carried out by Department of Transport inspectors with police and county council officials.

During the checks, carried out at schools in Upton Noble, Castle Carey and Wincanton, the driver of one coach carrying 53 children was arrested when he failed a breath test. He has been bailed to appear in court next month.

More than 40 vehicles were inspected, including nine operated by one contractor who has been providing school coaches for 20 years.

The council sacked the firm after faults were found on seven of its buses. DoT inspectors told the company to take four coaches off the road immediately and said faults on three others must be corrected within 10 days. Similar delayed orders were made on three coaches belonging to two other contractors.