'Fingers crossed' on fate of bus firm after court case
County Hall bosses have admitted they will struggle to get hundreds of children to and from school if a bus company is forced to take its buses off the road.
City coach firm Ausden Clark has the contract for 35 school runs with the council, but the Department of Transport is considering whether the firm can continue to hold an operator's licence.
Earlier this month, Paul Ausden-Clark (56), the firm's managing director, was ordered to pay almost £28,000 in fines and costs after admitting forging reports of coach inspections and maintenance work.
The Government's Traffic Commissioner is set to make a decision on the company's future next month. The jobs of 100 staff are at stake.
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County Hall cabinet transport spokesman Councillor Leslie Pendleton yesterday told the council: "If they did lose their licence, I can assure you we will be in quite a difficult position.
"I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will issue the licences. We will have to put something in place just in case."
She pointed out to yesterday's full council meeting that the judge in the case had stressed there was no suggestion that the vehicles were "anything other than perfectly road worthy".
After the meeting she said: "If the licences go we will need to find 35 more buses very quickly and there will not be that many companies which have that number of vehicles sitting free.
"Some of those 35 contracts are double school runs so we are talking about a lot of children."
Liberal Democrat Coun Simon Galton said: "There needs to be a Plan B. I don't think we can just hope for the right result from the Traffic Commissioner.
"The county council does have its own small fleet of buses and it could be that we need to use them."