Clarkson Coachways’ O-licence revoked

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The Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the North West, Simon Evans, has revoked Barrow-based Clarkson Coachways’ O-licence after a string of health and safety failings and concerns about its financial stability, the North West Evening Mail reported.

The firm was set up 28 years ago by husband-and-wife team Neil and Susan Clarkson, who operated 10 coaches and employed a team of 10 people.

In January 2016, following a bout of bad health, Neil Clarkson was forced to retire and sold up, with the company being run by transport manager Richard Hoban, who is a former director at Workington-based John Hoban Travel.

Since then, the company was gradually reduced to a shell of its former success and in April 2017, staff were told they were out of work, with some owed unpaid wages.

The TC held a Public Inquiry (PI) to decide if the company’s O-licence should be revoked amid concerns about its repute, financial standing and professional competence.

The TC heard evidence which made up a catalogue of failings, including out-of-date safety inspection paperwork, inadequate defect reporting, routine vehicle safety checks not being carried out on time and a prohibition notice issued for a defective seat belt stalk.

A warning was issued to Richard Hoban, who was quizzed over his repute and professional competence.

The TC said: “Richard Hoban is guilty of a lack of basic due diligence in being prepared to take on a directorship and holding the role of transport manager without a full understanding of those he would work for and alongside.”

Founder Neil Clarkson, 68, spoke of his sadness after the management of the firm was branded incompetent.

“I sold to New Inn Travel in January 2016 and they promised to look after the staff,” he said.

“The people who worked for me were brilliant. That is the sad part of this – the good people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”