A GWENT bus company is calling for an insurance crackdown in a bid to protect pupils travelling to and from school.

Phil Anslow, whose Pontnewynydd-based company runs numerous school routes, has res-ponded to requests from safety campaigners and is now displaying insurance and MOT certificates along with the tax disc on his buses.

His move comes amid claims that a legal loophole makes it possible for businesses to operate without insurance.

"I'm doing this to reassure parents, and prove each vehicle has been insured, MOT'd, and taxed, and is under a current operator's licence," Mr Anslow said.

Pat Harris, spokeswoman for the Gwent-wide transport safety group, BUSK - Belt Up School Kids, believes there are companies operating without insurance.

She said: "It's very easy for companies to purchase insurance for their vehicles, apply for a contract with the local authority, and then as soon as they get it, cancel the policy and ask for a refund - nobody bothers to check."

News of the shock legal loophole will worry parents whose children are bussed to school, and exposes a major flaw in the system.

With insurance costs now spiralling out of control - premiums have risen by more than 60% in the last 12 months - the temptation to avoid paying what could amount to tens of thousands of pounds was understandable, said Ms Harris.

She praised Mr Anslow's move but was quick to point out he was one of the "very few" operators prepared to work alongside BUSK.

She added: "We would like to see other operators follow suit - if they're not prepared to, we should be asking why."

Torfaen county borough council maintain they will crack down on insurance cheats by cancelling contracts and imposing a fine.

A Torfaen council spokesman said: "We are not aware of any of our contractors operating without a licence - if they did, it could result in a fine and the termination of that contract."

*PICTURED: Senior driver Roy Barnwell with a Phil Anslow coach displaying the MoT and insurance certificates.