Former soldier fights for future of Motherwell bus firm

MCT owner Alan Fee at his depot in Motherwell.
MCT owner Alan Fee at his depot in Motherwell.

A former soldier who fought in the Falklands and the Gulf says his toughest battle yet is trying to save his Motherwell bus company from closure.

Alan Fee says he is shattered by the prospect of MCT Group losing its operator’s licence and warns that 15 jobs are at stake.

It follows a Traffic Commissioner inquiry which ruled the company doesn’t have the necessary financial standing to continue.

However, Mr Fee has vowed to fight the decision and said it’s business as usual for the Nethan Street firm pending an appeal.

The army veteran said he has ploughed hundreds of thousands of pounds into the company and it is beginning to make a profit.

Mr Fee added: “This is harder than anything I did in the army.”

Motherwell Community Transport was set up more than 30 years ago, primarily to cater for people with disabilities.

Mr Fee, who took over the company in 2013, said it continues to specialise in that field with 70 per cent of its fleet adapted for wheelchairs. As a result it has customers from as far afield as Edinburgh and Ayrshire.

It also does school transport in Lanarkshire and lays on buses when train services are disrupted.

Mr Fee admitted business has been tough since he took over. He said: “We’ve dragged the fleet into the 21st century, spending a fortune on maintenance.

“That’s been one of our biggest costs, but recently we have reduced outgoings and increased our income significantly.

“We have contracts worth £630,000 and that doesn’t include private hire business.

“All I’m asking is for 12 months. If in that time we have not become the viable, professional company we want to be they can shut us down.”

The decision to revoke the company’s licence was made after a public inquiry held by Deputy Traffic Commissioner James Astle.

‘Financial standing’ is one of the criteria operators must satisfy and Mr Astle said he wasn’t convinced by MCT’s performance.

He pointed out the company had been given a chance as far back as August 2013 to demonstrate its financial standing and had failed to do so then and on three further occasions.

Mr Fee is determined to fight to save his business. He said: “This is of huge concern - there are 15 of us employed here - and if the licence was revoked as planned on March 31 we would shut.

“However, we are appealing against the decision as there are glaring inaccuracies in the findings and my solicitor advises we can continue to operate meantime.”

More on this story in the Motherwell Times, out now.