A LEADING coach company has lost its school transport contract for a local primary after one its its drivers strapped two children into a single seatbelt.
• Aberdeenshire Council discovered that one minibus carried 17 pupils instead of the maximum 16
• Central Coaches ferries around 2000 children to and from schools in Aberdeenshire every day, but contracts for other school runs are unaffected
Aberdeenshire Council terminated its contract with Aberdeen-based Central Coaches for taking pupils on the run to and from Durris Primary, near Banchory, after discovering that 17 instead of the maximum 16 pupils had travelled home on the minibus last week.
Central Coaches takes about 2,000 children to and from schools across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire every day but the company’s contracts for other school runs are unaffected.
Lynne Smith, the company’s managing director, said the driver had been disciplined. She said: “He shouldn’t have had 17 children on a 16-seat minibus. He made the choice to put two siblings into the one seatbelt. It was one over capacity and the drive from the school to the first drop-off was two miles on a single track, where he was unlikely to meet another car.
“That doesn’t justify what he did – he was disciplined and we have been penalised.”
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We can confirm that a contract with a bus company has been terminated for non-compliance as they were operating above the capacity of the vehicle by having 17 children on board.
“Aberdeenshire Council puts the highest priority on safety especially when dealing with the transportation of children which is why we have taken the decision to terminate the contract.
“We have put alternative arrangements in place.”
A spokeswoman for the parent council at Durris Primary said : “As far as we’re concerned the council has resolved it satisfactorily and we now have a new service. They should have the correct number of seats for the children on the run – that’s the legal requirement.”