North Wales operator folds after having its licence revoked
North Wales’ oldest independent operator, Express Motors of Penygroes, closed at the end of the year, after having its licence revoked, leaving some communities isolated after replacement services were not available.
Gwynned Council said it was endeavouring to provide replacement services – especially school buses, and other operators have stepped in to provide some school and local services. Nevertheless the villages of Morfa Bychan and Borth-y-Gest have lost all ten daily buses to nearby Porthmadog, with no replacement for the 99 service.
Other routes have been cut severely, with a route that used to run 14 times a day between Porthmadog and Caernarfon is now just operating three times. Dinorwig, above Llanberis, has been left with just three buses a day, with the last service to Caernarfon at 4.10pm.
The decision to revoke the Penygroes-based bus company’s operating licence followed an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, after a coach crash in France. In August, Express Motors Director, Ian Wyn Jones, was disqualified from holding or applying for an operator’s licence for 12 months for falsifying maintenance records. Transport Manager, Kevin Wyn Jones, was also banned from holding or applying for a similar position until he takes a specialist course.
In addition, seven people from the company have been charged with fraud following a three-year investigation. They have been charged with offences including conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and have already appeared in court. It is understood that the charges allege false accounting of concessionary passes.
Welsh Traffic Commissioner, Nick Jones, allowed a fresh application to be submitted for a new company, and the application for a new company Express Motors (Caernarfon) will be heard on 17 January. Mr Jones said if the family business was to continue, a new entity was needed to take over the registered services currently run.
The company has already started selling some of its vehicles, with nearly 30 being advertised for sale on Ebay.
Eric Wyn Jones, of Gerallt, Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon, faces a charge of conspiring to commit fraud by false representation.
The 77-year-old also faces an allegation that between June 13, 2012 and September 11, 2014 he conspired with his sons – Ian, 52, of Carmel Road, Penygroes, Keith, 50, of Caerberllan, Llanddaniel, Anglesey, and Kevin, 54, of Llwyn Beuno, Bontnewydd – to conceal money by failing to account for all cash takings as business income, failing to pay any taxes due on the cash takings, and paying the takings into personal bank accounts without declaring this as income.
Ian Jones also faces a charge of possessing counterfeit currency on July 30, 2014.
Three other men – Aled Wyn Davies, 41, of Rhosgadfan, near Caernarfon, Michael Munson, 51, of Tanybwlch Road, Llanllechid, near Bangor, and Rheinallt Williams, 44, of Rhydfadog Estate, Deiniolen, near Caernarfon, face a charge of conspiracy.
The charges follow an investigation by North Wales Police sparked by a complaint from Gwynedd council, which led to the men being arrested in August 2014.
Judge Huw Rees at Caernarfon Crown Court bailed them until a trial, expected to last six weeks, beginning on 3 September.