Bus drivers laid off as services are cut

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PASSENGERS face reduced services after a bus company took most of its fleet off the road - laying off dozens of employees.

Braidhurst Bus Company, formerly known as Coakley, lost 30 of its 70 vehicle licences after a public inquiry.

The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland also fined the company £10,000 for a range of offences and branded it a ‘very scruffy operation’.

Owner Eddie Coakley apologised this week for inconvenience to passengers, but said he intends to have a full fleet of buses back on the road in the summer - if he can persuade Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken that he has sufficent cash reserves.

Speculation has been rife over Mr Coakley’s businesses after the cuts in bus services and the abrupt closure of his pubs in Motherwell and Bellshill last week.

However, the developments are not related.

The Eagle Inn in Motherwell, which re-opened only a few weeks ago after refurbishment, was closed for seven days by North Lanarkshire Licensing Board which shut the Coachman’s Tavern in Bellshill for two weeks.

The board used its powers to close the pubs after Mr Coakley’s recent conviction for assaulting a man in another Bellshill pub.

Of the speculation regarding his buses and pubs, Mr Coakley said: “People put two and two together and come up with five. However, these developments are unrelated.”

The public inquiry covered complaints against the bus company and an application by Mr Coakley to start afresh in his own right.

In 2007 Mr Coakley was disqualified from being a company director for six years for failure to maintain adequate accounting records. He had been a director of Coakley Bus Company which went into liquidation in 2003.

However, he still owns the current Braidhurst company, its buses and premises in Motherwell.

The latest re-structuring plan involves Braidhurst going into liquidation and Mr Coakley running a new company as an individual to get round his director ban.

Mr Coakley said operating the bus venture as a sole trader would enable him to be involved in its day to day running which would also help in his dealings with the bank.

The public inquiry heard that a monitoring team from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport had listed a catalogue of complaints about Coakley buses.

Mr Coakley has another hearing before the Traffic Commissioner this month at which he will be asked to provide proof of his financial standing.

See Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker for full story.