Mike Nolan supports coach industrySunday July 19, 2020
Statement from Mike Nolan July 2020
My name is Mike Nolan. I was part of the Bucks Fizz pop group when we won the Eurovision song contest in 1981, so I guess you could say we did a bit better in Europe than this Government has!
As a touring band we obviously used coaches a lot although the industry was very different then. On 11th December 1984, our coach was involved in a serious head on crash with lorry. I ended up in a coma, very nearly died and was given the last rites twice. (Visit this link to find out more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlCkPufRHaA)
Given that background, it might seem odd that I’m speaking out so strongly in support of the coach industry at this time.
I want to be clear. The bus industry and the coach industry are two different things. Back then, our touring coach was not fitted with seat belts. I was thrown from the coach and that’s why my injuries were so severe. Over 35 years later, most busses still don’t have seat belts, but all modern coaches do.
That change happened because of the safety work and campaigning of Pat Harris from BUSK and since 1993 I was right behind their high profile and successful campaign which helped to change the law to ensure that children travelling in coaches and minibuses would be provided with a seat belt.
Pat Harris has brought to my attention the dire situation the coach industry is in right now due to Covid-19 and asked me if I would like to help by making a statement that the industry could use if it chose to but importantly, to try and get a message to the general public and to parents.
I agreed without hesitation because I know from BUSK that there are so many great transport operators in the UK that rightly take a huge pride in what they do and have worked so hard above and beyond their requirements to ensure the safety of not just passengers, but drivers too. It’s an industry we should be as proud of as they are. We can’t lose this vital and integral part of our transport sector.
I have a particular concern I want parents to focus on. Soon children will return to schools again, but unless the government step in and do the right thing for the coach industry, WILL there be a coach with seatbelts to transport the children or will many have gone out of business? Some already have.
You wouldn’t let your child travel in your car without a seatbelt would you? Do you want them exposed to the same risk I was exposed to? The question is, how will your child get to school or go on a school trip? All very well to think they can use a bus, but buses for long haul trips will not be fitted with safety belts. Buses are often licensed to carry standing passengers. Is this how you want your child to travel?
Buses are designed for use on town service routes, shorter journeys where they are often in traffic jams and stopping and starting a lot, but do you really want your child to go on a school trip on one?
There is a real risk that schools and local authorities may have to decide to use buses instead if coaches are not available, but it’s an avoidable risk if the government do the right thing and act now. All the effort BUSK and the Coach Industry have put in to improve the safety of all passengers, but in particular the children, would take a dramatic step backwards.
Parents and grandparents, do something, say something and please but do it now. Contact BUSK (01495 981185 / firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like the wording to write to your MP to demand something is done now before it is too late. The livelihood of the coach industry and more than 42,000 highly trained, dedicated and professional drivers are at risk – and so is your child’s safety when they travel by road.
If parents do not protect their children, who will? The drivers do. They’re are not ‘just the driver’. They understand about safety in transit, they really care about your child’s welfare and know how to help keep your child safe.
The only reason the Coach companies need help is because, the government forced them to cease trading and will continue to adversely affect the industry’s ability to trade. It may well be the right thing to do this during this time of crisis, but it’s also the right thing to help them survive too.
Boris says he has given millions to the bus industry so what is all the fuss about, but that completely misses the point because the bus industry is completely different from the coach industry.
Coaches are totally different in every respect. Their structure is much stronger with roll-over protection, double glazed windows, safety belts and other hidden safety features. The seating is high up from ground level and is specially designed to be strong enough to protect passengers against an impact. The high backed seats protect heads and necks.
Many big and small coach companies have invested heavily in their fleet to provide safe modern vehicles, brilliantly trained staff and they will make sure they are legally compliant. To prove this many have voluntarily joined accreditation schemes such as Benchmark, Coachmarque or others to demonstrate the highest of standards and their commitment of safety to you. They will have joined, not because they have to but because they want to.
The coach industry has done more than its bit to keep us and our children safe every single day, on the school run, at home and abroad. Please do your bit to support them now and insist the government do the right thing too.