Bus dismay rocks challenge success

Forfar Academy perform at the Rock Challenge Scottish Finals. Picture by Nick Scott Photography
Forfar Academy perform at the Rock Challenge Scottish Finals. Picture by Nick Scott Photography

Around 40 Forfar Academy pupils and staff had to make their own way home from Dundee after their booked bus abandoned them, it has been claimed.

They were at the Caird Hall on Friday night for the Rock Challenge, in which Forfar Academy came third, but their elation quickly turned to frustration after it emerged the bus booked to take them back to Forfar had left.

It appears the incident arose after the Rock Challenge overran significantly. Parents were contacted and pupils and staff were able to get home safely.

As we went to press there were conflicting reports as to whether the bus had left before the pupils were ready to leave.

S6 pupil Maurvin Thomson told the Dispatch: “The show ran a bit late, however other bus companies waited and they had longer journeys to make, even as far as Thurso, yet Wisharts, a local company, couldn’t wait to make a 30 minute journey with vulnerable pupils. They looked at our teacher whilst we were making our way towards the bus and shrugged.”

Gavin Kinnear, proprietor of coach firm Wisharts (Friockheim) Ltd, denied suggestions the pupils had been abandoned. He said: “I spoke to the driver and he said - what would I do that for? He wouldn’t have left anybody.”

The bus had been booked for 10.30pm, but Mr Kinnear said last year’s booking had been made for 11pm. The firm has to abide by strict regulations governing a driver’s working hours and the driver had waited 90 minutes before leaving.

Mr Kinnear said: “Arbroath Academy came out and said they were running late and they left about 11.15pm. Our driver went in and looked for people, nobody ‘phoned and nobody got in touch. After an hour and a half there was nobody going about and nobody said anything. You are sitting thinking, do they need a bus to return? If they had ‘phoned at say 11.30pm I could have got something else arranged, but they didn’t. A ‘phonecall could have sorted it all out.”

Angus Council said: “The school is investigating the incident and will be writing to parents with further information as soon as their investigation is concluded.”