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A prominent Wickford bus company has decided to scale back operations in France after a coach driver working for them was fined for bringing two illegal immigrants into the UK. According to the company’s owners, the fine is unreasonable and unjust. Until something is done to seriously address the ongoing problem at Calais, the company will not be going out of its way to offer trips to and from France. They have already turned away a significant amount of business as a result of the decision.

According to news reports, L and R Transport driver Lawrence Bourne was bringing a group of passengers back from a day trip to a hypermarket in Calais when his coach was stopped by a large number of immigrants in the road. During the confusion that followed, two immigrants were able to force their way into an empty luggage compartment where they stowed away for a successful crossing.

The immigrants were eventually discovered by authorities who turned around and blamed the coach driver and his employer. The driver was fined £2000 for unlawfully bringing immigrants into the country. Although L and R Transport appealed the fine, the UK Border Agency rejected the appeal. They are now asking multiple representatives in both the French and UK government to see if anything else can be done.

In the meantime, service to and from France is being curtailed by both L and R Transport and other bus companies. It is simply too risky to travel through Calais at this point in time. That means fewer trips for schoolchildren, fewer shopping excursions and fewer sightseeing tours entering and leaving France through the popular port city.

Driver Responsibility Too Vague

UK regulations stipulate that commercial drivers, whether operating HGVs or coaches/buses are ultimately responsible for the cargo they carry into the country from France or the Netherlands. In most cases, drivers found with immigrant stowaways are not penalised if they can demonstrate they have taken every reasonable means to prevent illegal crossings. The problem is that the regulations are too vague.

The bus driver and L and R Transport officials believe he did everything he could by keeping luggage compartments locked and the main doors closed as he passed through Calais. The Border Agency apparently disagrees. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for lorry drivers to be let off the hook even when immigrants break the locks on the backs of their trailers in order to get inside. In the interest of fairness and maintaining a competitive business environment, something should be done to clarify the regulations.

In the meantime, we hope the ongoing problems in Calais will not discourage you from considering a career as a coach driver. Bus companies all across the UK are in desperate need of drivers to accommodate retirements and a noticeable increase in business. If you are interested, the HGV Training Centre can provide the necessary coach driver training you need to start working.

Sources:

Echo – https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/13573201.Coach_boss_bans_Calais_stops_after___2_000_stowaway_fine/

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