Wiltshire Council has severed all ties with a bus firm after one of its vehicles believed to have been carrying schoolchildren burst into flames.

The IGO Bus vehicle burst into flames on the A417 near the Air Balloon roundabout north of Swindon on Thursday evening whilst transporting pupils home from school.

In a public inquiry at the end of last month, Denwell Coaches and sister company IGO Bus, which are both run by Darren Brown, were shut down by traffic commissioner Kevin Rooney after multiple safety failings and dangerous practices were discovered

The shutting down of these services was deferred until March 31 to allow Wiltshire Council to find alternative provisions because there was "currently no contingency" for transport contracts for the council to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy and Bradon Forest School in Purton. 

But after the events of Thursday, Wiltshire Council has said it will immediately stop using the company.

Cllr Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “The safety of the pupils we transport to and from school is of paramount importance and so we have taken the decision to stop using Denwell Coaches with immediate effect.

“We had previously taken the traffic commissioner’s advice and continued to use the company because the commissioner was satisfied that the vehicles could be operated safely until Denwell Coaches’ operator’s licence ends on March 31.

"However, while we wouldn’t want to speculate on the causes of the coach fire, this incident in Gloucestershire has made us reconsider.

“We have contacted the schools and arranged alternative transport for all affected pupils this afternoon (Friday). We are now working hard to secure suitable alternative transport for when the children return from half-term on Monday, February 19."

In the report, Mr Rooney highlighted that almost half of the coaches in the company failed their MOTs despite pre-MOT inspections, and investigations discovered that many vehicles were kept in circulation despite dangerous defects.

In one instance, an ABS defect reported half a dozen times was dismissed by Mr Brown as a "disgruntled employee recording imaginary defects".

But, because of representations made by Martin Watson of Wiltshire Council, Mr Rooney chose to allow the firm to continue operating until March 31, to give the council time to find replacement services.

He said the "spotlight created by the public inquiry" would generate sufficient compliance to keep vehicles safe, in a decision dated January 23.

Denwell Coaches and IGO Bus also provided routes from the Swindon and Cirencester areas to many schools across Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud.