A coach operator has been ordered to pay £4,870 for operating a fleet of vehicles without insurance, the Kent Messenger reported.
Manns Travel, which operated for more than 20 years, was based in Gravesend until going bust in March. The liquidation process began after a police investigation into the firm, and former director Bakhtawar Singh Mann pleaded guilty before magistrates despite denying the charge at a hearing in June.
He has been hit with a £4,500 penalty, along with a £120 victim surcharge and £250 for court costs.
“We cannot have our children driven around in uninsured buses,” said a magistrate.
“This is very serious and we must make clear that anyone thinking of doing similar recognises that.
“You knew that these buses were uninsured and yet you still allowed them to go out.”
The family business used to own 20 vehicles, including cars and minibuses, but only three were running at the time police began their investigation following a tip-off from a concerned parent. Police stopped one of the coaches as it transported Gravesend pupils on a trip to Rochester on March 5. It had been driving without insurance since December 1.
Speaking for the defendant, Farrukh Sherwani claimed there had been a number of mitigating factors behind his client’s failure to insure his vehicles.
“The business was growing consistently until 2014 when it lost a major contract for Medway Council,” he said.
“It began to suffer and Mr Mann’s health also suffered.”
Three of the firm’s coaches were also involved in accidents in September and October last year, resulting in expensive insurance claims. The firm’s insurance cover came to an end in December, and Mr Sherwani insisted that his client’s failure to renew the plan was ‘not a deliberate action,’ citing his financial difficulties and health problems.
Mr Mann is required to pay the total £4,870 charge within the next six months.