Coach firm in discrimination claim

Coach firm in discrimination claim

Businessman says Kintore company judged by past history under different ownership – By Alistair Beaton.

A North-East businessman yesterday claimed the coach business he rebuilt cost more than £200,00 has been “discriminated against” because of its past history under different ownership.

Alan Findlater’s comments came after traffic commissioners confirmed Premier Coaches Kintore Ltd. would not be allowed to expand its fleet until April. An enquiry found conditions on a licence granted to the new business had not been fully met. “I do feel the business is being discriminated against because of its past history” said Mr Findlater who took over the former Keirs coaches in November 2009. Keirs operators licence was revoked in March of that year after a Vehicle and Operator services Association (Vosa) described a bus the firm had used to transport Alford Academy pupils as “The worst public-service vehicle” he had come across in twelve and a half years in the job. The Kintore firm went into liquidation.

Mr Findlater who has a Deeside painters business and also runs the Lairds Throat pub and restaurant at Kemnay bought the coach business for a token payment of 1p. He was granted a new liscence with a series of conditions because of the previous firms failings. Among the undertakings was that either Mr Findlater or a former employee pass the examination required by a transport manager within 12 months.

Mr Findlater said yesterday that he had sat the examination and had failed to pass, but Law graduate Shona McMasters had gained the certificate of professional competence (CPC) this summer and was now the firms full-time transport manager.

“We are now working seven days a week, 100 hours a week, to run what is now a successful business with 20 full0time and part-time employees” said Mr Findlater.

The enquiry finding would not affect the future of the firm, which had no immediate plans to increase its fleet, he said.

The inquiry heard that Mr Findlater had involved the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in training new staff and monitoring the six vehicles operated. A break fluid leak had been immediately repaired during a test and a twisted door handle on another coach repaired, and the firms vehicles had passed traffic commissioners spot checks at Perth and in Lancashire.

Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken Said that she accepted that Mr Findlater was “Too energised and entrepreneurial to be easily given to the plod of study” and withdrew the condition he obtain a CPC. She accepted the Miss McMasters was hardworking and enthusiastic to develop the business. The restriction reflected the authority’s displeasure at having to call the operator back over failing to meet some of the conditions previously imposed.

(Article in the Press and Journal)