Camden Council rapped for school bus safety blunders at its York Way depot
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The Traffic Commissioner has issued Camden Council with a warning over safety blunders maintaining buses used to drive kids to school and pensioners to lunch clubs.
The local authority was called before a public inquiry last month over shortcomings in safety standards relating to its fleet of vehicles at York Way depot.
Union reps have described the situation as “extremely rare” and slammed the council for failing to take action sooner over the issues.
Some buses and coaches in the fleet are used to drive children with complex learning difficulties to Swiss Cottage School and to transport OAPs to day centres.
Swiss Cottage headteacher Vijita Patel told the Ham&High she was confident the school buses are now roadworthy and safe.
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“We do not have concerns due to reassurances from Camden Transport that MOTs are currently valid and daily safety checks continue to take place for vehicles used to transport our pupils,” she said.
Deputy traffic commissioner John Baker issued the warning after a public inquiry on March 7.
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He found the council failed to carry out vehicle maintenance checks every eights weeks, instead stretching this to 10 weeks, and had not met undertakings relating to vehicle paperwork and roadworthiness.
The inquiry also heard that three vehicles were identified as being out of MOT and there was evidence of them being used on the road.
But Mr Baker said he was satisfied “substantial organisational and operational changes had been made to ensure the errors were not repeated”.
It comes after a Ham&High investigation last year revealed Camden school buses had been on the road without valid MOTs.
Union reps say attempts to raise concerns about safety fell on deaf ears for too long.
Grant Bennett, GMB health and safety officer, said: “Camden cannot plead ignorance to this and say they have been caught unawares.
“They were told by myself and others over a three year period that these misses and lapses were happening.
“The very fact that they’ve been brought to book by a traffic commissioner in a public inquiry shows you how serious it actually was.”
The council said all vehicles now have up to date MOTs and a strict timetable of inspections is in place.
A spokesman said: “We fully accept the conclusions of the traffic commissioner,” adding a new transport manager with 19 years’ experience has been hired.