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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Millom school taxi licence revoked

A MILLOM school taxi operator has had its licence revoked after complaints from parents about the safety of its mini-buses.

Pete’s Taxis has been operating the contract between Millom and Sandside Lodge School, in Ulverston, for the past few years but following a public inquiry on December 20 Cumbria County Council, which provides the contracts, decided to revoke the firm’s licence after hearing the parents’ worries, preventing it from using vehicles with nine seats or more to operate the contract.

At present the company is servicing the route with two smaller vehicles following the ban on its 16-seater minibuses.

A group of parents, who did not wish to be named, contacted the Evening Mail after they felt their complaints about the firm’s vehicle maintenance and communication went unanswered by Cumbria County Council.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “One of the parents used to drive the bus that took the kids to Sandside Lodge.

“But he refused to carry on because the vehicles were that unsafe. As parents, we just want our children to be taken to school and back in safety.”

However, Tina Swithenbank, who runs the firm with partner Pete Dickinson, said: “We have received an email from the
council and we will be responding to it.

“Some of the issues raised we were unaware of. We’d not been told by parents – they went straight to children’s transport so until now we had been unable to resolve any of the concerns.

“The route will be continued. All the issues will be worked through and changes will be made if possible.”

A Cumbria County Council spokeswoman said: “The outcome of a public inquiry held on December 20 was to revoke with immediate effect the operator’s licence held by Pete’s Taxis.

“This prevents the firm from operating any vehicle with nine or more passenger seats.

“Although Pete’s Taxis can still operate the route with two smaller vehicles, the decision was taken to suspend the route while investigations into the issues raised are carried out.

“The suspension is currently in force until February 8.

“Pete’s Taxis also operate a number of vehicles that are licensed by Copeland Borough Council and these vehicles are not affected by the decision of the public inquiry.

“We are currently awaiting a formal written response from Pete’s Taxi’s about the issues raised. Following this response the county council will make a decision about the future of the company’s contracts and we will first and foremost inform affected parents of our decision.”

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