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Bus driver transported children in storm without windscreen wipers

A driver risked the lives of 64 passengers when he travelled along a motorway during a storm - with no working windscreen wipers.

William Blundell had 36 children and 28 adults on board his coach, which he continued to drive despite being barely able to see what was ahead of him.

One frightened mum, who was on board with her daughter as the bus travelled through the darkness, got so afraid she rang her partner at home, who alerted the police.

Officers stopped the bus, which was travelling from Blyth in Northumberland to Pennywell Community Centre in Sunderland, at Testos roundabout and prevented Blundell from travelling any further in that vehicle.

The 54-year-old, of Eastley Road, Seaham, County Durham, admitted he had "bowed to pressure" by passengers who had been keen to complete the journey instead of waiting two hours for a replacement bus after he reported his wipers were broken.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and at Newcastle Crown Court and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a 12 month driving ban and £340 costs.

Judge Deborah Sherwin said a "risk was placed upon the lives of the passengers on the coach" .

The judge told Blundell: "You initially did the right thing, you contacted the company and were told there would be a delay of two hours.

"When the information was passed to passengers, some prevailed upon you to start driving.

"It was your duty as a driver to resist what the passengers had to se because the safety of the adults and children on that coach should have been a the forefront of your mind.

Katherine Dunn, defending, said Blundell is a timid man with a good work record who admits his actions were "stupidity, a foolish, foolish error".

The court heard Blundell has been kept on by his company doing yard work but fears for his long term future at the firm.

Miss Dunn added; "He bitterly regrets his actions.

"He is thankful no-one was injured and there was no accident as a result of his actions."

Revd Canon Alison White to be 2nd female bishop

Revd Canon Alison White. Credit: Diocese of York

As Bishop of Hull, the Revd Canon Alison White will be the second woman bishop in the Church of England.

The first was the Reverend Libby Lane, who was appointed in December 2014.

I am thrilled that Alison’s priestly and personal gifts have been recognised by the wider church and believe she will be an outstanding bishop who will quickly endear herself to the people of Hull and the East Riding. As the second woman to be appointed Bishop in the Church of England, we rejoice with her and pray for her.”

– Rt Revd Martin Wharton, recently retired Bishop of Newcastle
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