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A bus which was supplied by a Bestwood Village-based company to ferry children on the school run was found to have dangerous defects that could have led to disaster, a court was told.

Gary’s Coaches Limited, which is run by 53-year-old Gary Austin and his wife, faced eight charges when the case was brought before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court this week.

Four of the charges were dismissed, but the company pleaded guilty to the other four, which came to light when the bus was stopped and inspected on Park Road, Calverton, on Monday 29th October 2012.

These charges related to the condition of four seats, which were insecure and had sharp metal edges on the frame, causing danger to passengers; of two seat-belts that weren’t functioning properly; and of windscreen wipers, which were not working as they should.

Gary’s Coaches, of Moor Road, was fined a total of £2,800 and ordered to pay court costs of £250, plus a victim surcharge of £100.

The chairman of the Bench, Gavin Shelley, told Mr Austin: “You were operating a vehicle that was extremely dangerous. It was a recipe for disaster if there had been an accident.”

Bernadette McGurk (prosecuting) said the offences came to light during a series of checks made on school buses that carried children.

Mr Austin’s vehicle was the bus used by Lowdham Primary School and was operating out of the Colonel Frank Seely School at Calverton when it was stopped.

Driven by Steve Duce, it was inspected by Robert Sparkes, of the enforcement division of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), and then by the police.

“The seats were insecure and could have come out of position if they were sat on,” said Miss McGurk.

“The fastenings of the seat-belts were not operating to the correct safety levels, and a strip of rubber had come free from the windscreen wipers.”

Chris Brewin (defending) said Gary’s Coaches and Mr Austin “had a very good reputation” in the coach industry.

“He has been in the business for 20 years and is known as a Green Operator, which is something akin to gold-star status.”

Mr Brewin said that since the inspection, 15 months ago, VOSA had “gone over Mr Austin’s business with a fine toothcomb”.

“He had to tighten one or two of the company’s procedures, so that nothing like this could happen again -- and this he has done. He doesn’t want to create any danger for passengers.”

At the end of the hearing, Mr Shelley told Mr Austin: “We are pleased you are now running a company with safe vehicles.”

 

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