Coach Drivers’ Club of Great Britain (CDC) founder Phil Buston, 73, has died after a long period of ill health.Having spotted the need for a ‘community of coach drivers’, in 1982 he founded the CDC.A regular at large events, such as race days, for many years the CDC had a coach providing hospitality for drivers. On selling the CDC to Expo Management in 2005, he became its President and continued to take an active interest in the club.He leaves his wife Judith and threedaughters. The funeral is on Friday 19 June, 1215hrs at Westerleigh Crematorium, near Bristol, BS37 8RF, followed by refreshments.
Thamesdown Transport has had a challenging decade. The recession hit Swindon very hard, and the town’s growth since has been somewhat to the detriment of the local bus company. But that’s set to change, with plans afoot to regenerate the town, as Jessamy Chapman reportsEvery business sees peaks and troughs. Operating bus services will never be easy, but the challenge of doing it is what keeps many people keen to get to work in the morning.Paul Jenkins: ‘Getting growth back is proving to be a longer-term process’That’s the case with Paul Jenkins, Managing Director of Thamesdown Transport, Swindon’s municipal bus company. The company’s fortunes are intrinsically tied to those of the town, so when Swindon’s economy took a plunge, so did Thamesdown’s. But this is an operator that knows its town and its market very well, and it strives always to give the people the bus service they need.The bus depot is a metaphor for how the company’s luck has changed. Purpose-built and opened in 2005, it was designed with space for 150 buses at a time when the company had 115. It has impressive facilities, including an ATF test lane, a paint spray booth, an eight-bay workshop and its own trim shop.Alas, the recession in 2008 saw a reversal of the passenger growth that had been increasing at Thamesdown year-on-year. But in recent years the decline has halted, and with 85 vehicles, the company has stability once more.‘Immediate reversal’As a business, Thamesdown is successful. Its staff are loyal, with 45% having been at the company for over 10 years, it has a strong customer service USP, and it’s recognised by the people of Swindon as a local business with high standards. “We’re a local company, here to transport the people of Swindon,” says Paul. “That’s our focus.”Paul has been here for 10 years, having joined as MD from First Somerset and Avon, where he was Operations Director. He’s an NBC management trainee, and has worked at Stagecoach as well as independents – so he was already keen to try his hand at a municipal when he saw the job at Thamesdown. “Being an MD at a municipal gives you good contact with what’s going on on the ground,” he says.”We’re right on the spot and involved in the local community.”New updated livery is one of several improvements to marketingThamesdown is the major operator in Swindon, with around two-thirds of the market; its biggest competition is Stagecoach West, based in Gloucester, which largely runs non-competing interurban services.However, its major competition is, of course, the private car – a problem exacerbated by Swindon’s unusual position as a commuter town. A lot of those who work in the town live outside it; and equally, a lot of its residents work elsewhere.Swindon is home to many major employers, including Honda, Mini, Nationwide, Intel and Npower. Their successes are key to that of the town, and subsequently that of Thamesdown.As a result, when the recession hit in 2008, it hit hard: The local Honda factory, for one, shut down for four months. “The effect on the local economy was drastic – people were not spending money,” says Paul. “We saw an immediate reversal of growth in passenger numbers.“We’ve stabilised that now, but getting growth back is proving to be a longer-term process, longer than we expected.”Serving new estatesIt’s all the more surprising considering Swindon’s population growth in the last 15 years – from 180,100 in 2001 to 209,200 at the last census in 2011.More growth is expected, and 22,000 new homes are planned. At the same time, Swindon Borough Council (SBC) is changing its local bus strategy and reducing spend, so the only funding provided to Thamesdown is BSOG and Section 106 funding for services to new housing estates.Investment in new buses in 2016 all include passenger Wi-Fi“The challenge here is getting those new services to critical mass,” says Paul. “So our philosophy is to stretch existing routes to new housing estates, rather than start completely new ones, thereby making the funding go a bit further and giving people time to get used to the bus.”Longer-term, the council has a bus rapid transit (BRT) plan for journeys into the town centre.“We’re uncertain as to what that will look like,” says Paul. “We’re not talking about guided busways, but infrastructure for speeding up journeys – the likes of bus gates, bus-only sections and priority at traffic lights, to make bus journeys more competitive with the private car.”Encouraging signsIn the meantime, other schemes are being put in place. Thamesdown currently benefits from some bus priority with camera reinforcement, “and it’s very effective,” says Paul.“The fact that the council is adding measures to speed up bus journeys is an encouraging sign for the future.”Another encouraging sign is that the council has just signed up to a bus punctuality partnership. “We’ve been pushing for that for some years, so we’re really pleased they’ve committed to it,” says Paul. “A lot of what we need to do is in place already – we do regular reviews of our timetables, provide real time information, and invest in staff training.“What we can’t do is control the roads – but the council can.Depot was built in 2005 with state-of-the-art facilities“There’s also the issue of the local parking policy, which we’ll work with the council on. It costs £2 to park your car for four hours in town centre, making it difficult to offer a competitive alternative by public transport.“And there’s no real park-and-ride, not with a timetable as frequent as it needs to be. That’s one of our long-term plans.”Delivering cultureOne of Swindon’s issues is its town centre, which lacks the thrum of a big-city hub, lacks culture and things to do, and lacks places to eat. It’s a major problem for Thamesdown – local people are less likely to want to nip into town on the bus, and more likely to leave for an out-of-town shopping centre or another city altogether.But regeneration is being planned, including a central business district called Kimmerfields, which will invite businesses into the centre close to shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. “The plan is to have 3,000 new office workers in the town centre, who will want sandwiches at lunchtime and drinks after work,” says Paul. Already empty units in the existing Brunel shopping centre are being converted to eating places.“The town centre needs culture,” Paul continues. “People need to be attracted, by big coffee shops, pleasant pedestrian areas, entertainment and fun things to do, to breathe some life into the town centre. We work very closely with the business improvement district (BID) because our objectives line up with theirs. They want more people in the town centre. We’d like to take them there on the bus.”The Kimmerfields development includes infrastructure improvements that will include a new bus station. Thamesdown’s own plan includes steps to strengthen the links between rail and bus journeys. “There is recognition that the public transport offer needs to match the growth of the town,” says Paul.That’s especially apt in Swindon, famous as the home of the Great Western Railway Works. 2016 marks 175 years since the decision was made to build the Works in the town, and Thamesdown has capitalised on the link by naming buses after Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch, and sponsored a local student’s artwork – a wooden recreation of an original marble bust of Gooch.“We thought it would be nice to have a lasting legacy of our involvement in Swindon,” says Paul. “Our Swindon 175 posters will come down in February; we wanted something lasting, a lasting link with the local community.”Marketing and ticketsFor its own part, Thamesdown has an ethos of playing to its strengths. “As an example, where there’s a good bus service with a regular frequency, we’ll try to encourage people to use the bus and rail for an integrated journey,” says Paul.“We’re increasingly trying to make bus services more attractive and we do a lot of the stuff bigger operators do.”There has been a “huge improvement” in marketing, steered by Commercial Director Peter Oliver, who joined the company in June 2015.“There was a view that Thamesdown is good at services, but not so good at promoting itself,” says Paul. “We’ve tried to make people more aware of our high-quality services and customer satisfaction to get the ball rolling and encourage more people to use buses.”Swindon’s Mayor unveiled Sir Daniel Gooch bus to celebrate Swindon 175It’s involved more modern graphics, an updated livery, more on-bus and roadside publicity, better ticketing initiatives, and using social media – and while passenger growth is still yet to be seen, better marketing has helped to reverse the decline.Thamesdown’s smart TravelCard is used by a high proportion of its customers, and it’s one area where Thamesdown is innovating. It’s just introduced a range of discounts for people under 20 in a bid to encourage the student market to travel more. “By including 18-19-year-olds, we can target the two further education colleges in Swindon, plus young people going to work in low-paid jobs,” says Paul. “They are the passengers of the future.“Our philosophy is to target sections of market that are already using us for growth.”In the same spirit, Thamesdown offers a joint ticketing initiative with Stagecoach, and has done for several years. “Two commercial operators working in partnership to deliver services – we were ahead of our time,” says Paul. “Other cities have now picked up on it, but we’ve been doing it since the ’90s.“I’d like to think that by appealing to existing users to travel more, we’re more likely to see a quicker and bigger impact than if trying to convert car users. That’s a much more difficult task.“Bus companies can’t do it on their own; we need the buy-in from the local authority.”Turning pointThamesdown is 100% owned by the SBC. It’s an arms-length relationship, but the council has recently funded Wi-Fi on over half Swindon’s buses through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. “It’s very useful for us, as it appeals to our young target audience,” says Paul. “It promotes things you can do on a bus, but not in a car, so it’s a good reason to use the bus.“It has certainly helped to stabilised passenger numbers, and in time will help us grow them. That’ll make a real difference.”Partnership is SBC’s only agenda: There is no appetite for franchising buses. The network is 93% commercial, and customer satisfaction levels are high. “We are delivering a good service to the people of Swindon,” says Paul. “But we need the council to help create the environment for us to serve as a commercial bus operator. That’s what the spirit of partnership is all about.”The mix of employment in Swindon has changed over the years from blue collar to white collar, and Swindon’s growth over that time has not been bus-friendly. But the town is now on the cusp of a turning point that will hopefully see more demand for short-distance travel from Swindon’s new housing estates to its new, regenerated town centre, as it becomes less of a commuter town and more of a city in its own right. Thamesdown is at a good place to serve those needs as they arise.
Gareth Davies has a similar story to many people in the industry, but with one twist – as well as being the Director of Lakeside Coaches, he’s also a GPGareth Davies (left) and Neal HallQ: How did you come to work in the industry?A: In some ways my background in the industry is probably very common, but also slightly different than a lot of other folks. I was born into a coaching family – my parents started Lakeside Coaches nearly 40 years ago in 1979, so I grew up with the business, and from 16 onwards would work summers in the office and the yard. After my a-levels, I passed my PCV test, and went to university where I studied medicine.Q: After studying medicine, was there a point where you thought the coach industry wasn’t for you?A: Probably a little bit. I think it was a case of not being 100% sure of what I wanted to do, and it was when I did my A Levels I considered a career in medicine. Mum and Dad said we’ll keep the business for a few years, and we’ll see which way you want to go with it.So I went off to medical school and did five years in Liverpool, and then did another five years’ post-grad training working in hospitals and I ended up being a GP. I got asked to be a partner in a practice, but part of that deal was being a GP three days a week, and Director at Lakeside two days a week.In 2012 I made that change. At that point my parents were able to retire, and a guy called Neal Hall, who has been with the business for 20 years as the General Manager, was made a Director at the same time so the pair of us were able to run the business together.I think that’s the main thing – to not just create a business and hit and hope, but create a business that you can be confident will go forward for many yearsQ: Do you find it difficult to balance being a GP and Director of Lakeside Coaches?A: I have to make sure that I have the right head on on the right day. I’m somebody that has quite a short attention span; I think if I did either thing full time it wouldn’t satisfy me. It gives me a balanced look on things – one half of the week I’m people’s advocate, and the other half I’m coming down harder and watching people. I think the two work quite well and there’s quite a lot of transferable skills between the two in terms of your communication, your conflict resolution, how you present yourself and your professionalism.Q: What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far in your career?A: In terms of coaching – one was winning Medium Coach Operator of the Year at the routeone Awards 2016. I think the win says ‘look, we’ve arrived’. Dad had always had a well-respected company locally, but it’s just put the cherry on top and showed that we are a strong regional player, and people do recognise us up and down the country.It’s also been good for Neal to get that recognition as he’s spent over 20 years in the industry. Second would be that over the last four years, Neal and I have been able to grow the company by 50%, and we’ve been able to do that not just in terms of the fleet but in terms of turnover. We’ve not only chased growth, but we’ve made the business more sustainable – it can stand on its own two feet.I think that’s the main thing – to not just create a business and hit and hope, but create a business that you can be confident will go forward for many years.
Operator should have classed drivers as employed and paid tax, says tribunalHMRC found no evidence that drivers were running their own businessesAn HGV operator has lost its legal challenge against HMRC’s finding that its drivers should be classed as employed, rather than self-employed.With implications for all PCV operators, RS Dhillon and GP Dhillon, trading as London Goods Transport, was told by a tribunal that it should have treated its drivers as employees and paid PAYE and National Insurance contributions.The Tribunal said that despite there being no written contracts between the operator and its drivers, managing partner Resham Dhillon was “very much the boss in the relationship”.A hearing in July was told that the operator provided the drivers with vehicles in its customers’ liveries, but drivers were expected to provide their own PPE and swap shifts with other drivers if they ran out of hours or could not complete the work.Drivers were paid a fixed amount per shift and received no other pay, such as holiday pay, other than occasional discretionary bonuses.Mr Dhillon told the hearing that the drivers could refuse work at any time and could work for other operators if they wished. However, the Tribunal found some continued to work for the business for four or more years with limited evidence of them working for other firms.HMRC argued that the arrangement gave the partnership control over the drivers; that drivers did not have sufficient financial risk to suggest they were self-employed; and that drivers were integrated into the operation.
Driven by a quest to meet low emissions targets, Lothian Buses is accelerating its fleet upgrade with secondhand buses fully refurbished and retrofitted to Euro 6 standard.MD Richard Hall told routeone: “We want to make Edinburgh the greenest city. These buses will replace Euro 3 models so that by 2020 the whole fleet will be Euro 5, Euro 6 or electric.”Lothian’s ongoing investment has seen the regular intake of new buses in its 794-strong fleet, with strong Volvo content. Consequently, the purchase from Ensignbus of 50 former London Euro 5 Wright Gemini 2-bodied Volvo B9TLs helps further standardise on the Swedish manufacturer.The seven-year-old Euro 5 buses became available after Metroline lost the contract for London’s route 18.The interiors are being brought up to Lothian’s new bus standard by the comprehensive refurb, while the addition of an exhaust after-treatment package will upgrade them to Euro 6; the supplier of the retrofit system is yet to be determined.After completion by Thornton’s, the first two of the ‘as new’ buses, have arrived at Lothian’s Central Garage. The remaining 48 will be refurbished by Wrightbus.
Pair of Volvo B11R-based flagships each seat 42; they are ‘a statement of intent’, says Manchester firmSwans’ two Elite-i coaches are to full VIP configuration and each seats 42Swans Travel of Manchester has taken delivery of a pair of Volvo B11Rs with Plaxton Elite-i interdeck bodies fitted out to sports team specification as it prepares to undertake player transport duties for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, which will be held in England and Wales.Conversion work was carried out by AD Coach Systems and each 13.8m Elite-i now seats 42. 24 of those positions are around six tables while each coach has an eight-seat rear lounge and a kitchen in the centre.“These are truly top-of-the-range coaches and they are targeted at very specific, niche sectors, particularly in the world of sport where we already have an enviable reputation and aim to reinforce our credentials,” says Managing Director Kieran Swindells.“The Elite-i is the perfect vehicle with which to make a statement of intent. They have a superb, ergonomically-designed interior.”Swans celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018 and Mr Swindells adds that the two Elite-is, which were delivered at the end of the year, formed part of that. Complementing their use for sports team movements, the two coaches will also be utilised in connection with VIP events.Swans Travel handled team transport for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which was held in England, and it was acclaimed for its successful delivery of the programme of transfers.
Edwards Coaches was recognised at the inaugural Wales Transport Awards, winning the Livery of the Year category for its Red Dragon-branded Mercedes-Benz Tourismo L at the inaugural event which was held on 2 November 2019.The distinctively-liveried coach is used to transport the Wales rugby team and on the operator’s luxury holiday programme.Edwards’ Tourismo is often seen on television and social media as it transports the team. The livery won over the judges with its commitment to highlighting Edwards’ proud Welsh heritage.The panel also recognised Edwards’ local bus network within South Wales and its tagline: ‘Keeping your community moving’.Says Edwards Coaches Managing Director Jason Edwards of the award for the Red Dragon coach: “We never take our position in the local community for granted. We appreciate that being able to deliver at a local level means we are able to work with bigger organisations such as Welsh Rugby Union.”
Five mechanics have had their jobs saved by Go North East (GNE) after the collapse of operator National Holidays.All five workers will now join GNE’s 250-strong engineering team, which is responsible for a fleet of around 700 coaches and buses.The five men, including one fourth year apprentice mechanic, were responsible for a three-year long 100% MoT pass rate at National Holidays.Colin Barnes, Engineering Director at Go North East, says: “It’s very unfortunate to see companies in our industry collapse, so from the moment we heard the news we wanted to do everything we could to help save some jobs.“We’ve acted quickly, interviewing for these roles and the five men have all impressed us. We’ve offered them positions and we can’t wait to see them working with our award-winning team in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Go-Ahead Group recruits 20 graduate trainees a year, most of them in bus. We talk to the woman in charge of the programme about Go-Ahead’s approach, and why it’s successful.Go-Ahead Group recruits 20 graduate trainees a year.That means that, over a decade, 200 bright young things will join the public transport industry and go through a comprehensive two-year training process to hone them into brilliant future leaders.And if Samantha Gudsell is still in charge, they are likely to retain an incredibly positive, passionate outlook on the industry they serve.The Group’s HR Projects and Learning Lead, Samantha has a strong background in early careers, and has been leading Go-Ahead’s graduate training programme for the last two-and-a-half years.If at first you don’t succeed…Samantha Gudsell: ‘If I had my time again, I’d do a programme like this’Her role sees her look after the thousands of applicants for Go-Ahead’s graduate training programme. Over 1,000 people have applied for next year’s 20 roles, which are whittled down to 300 that make it to video interview stage. Around 70 will make it to the final stage – interviews and assessments of competency, attitudes and behaviour, at the Group’s Assessment Centre.Of those factors, behaviour is the most important, says Sam. “We try and get best out of people, and our message when we promote the programme is, if you have the right attitude and behaviours, there’s so much we can teach you.”And for those 70, even the 50 or so who don’t make it onto the programme, Samantha will forge a relationship with them and guide them towards their next career step.“We try hard to make the recruitment process as personable as possible,” she says. “We’re a people business, and we want to make sure their interaction with us, whether they’re successful or not, is positive. They or a member of their family could well go on to use our services, so it’s really important that they have a face to the company.“Any prospective candidates can link with me on LinkedIn, or have a call with me if they’re nervous about any stage of the process – I obviously won’t divulge what we’re looking for, but I can coach them through some of the emotions they might go through. And for those who aren’t successful, we give them feedback that they can use in the future.”Graduates meet at a summer party before the training starts, followed by a three-week inductionBuilding relationshipsFor the 20 who are successful, that relationship with Sam lasts for the whole of the two-year programme.The programme starts with a three-week induction at Go-Ahead’s Head Office in London, for all the new graduates, even those based in Ireland. This is when Sam gets to know the successful 20, but not only that, they meet CEO David Brown and the executive committee; they take part in team-building activities; and they learn about Go-Ahead’s structure and growth strategy.Three weeks is enough time for relationships to build between the graduates and with Sam. Once the graduates have gone to their operating companies, Sam checks in with them every four to six weeks, and a big part of her job is making sure they feel comfortable contacting her for support.“Once they’ve moved away and they’re adapting to work, we find it really important that they know they can call me whenever they need to,” she says.Women in busProgramme is endorsed by CEO David Brown, and has fed into Women in Bus initiativeSam is particularly passionate about supporting female graduates through what is still a male-dominated industry.“So we do a lot of work on the programme around building resilience,” she says. “We see so many people, from any degree discipline; we get people with law degree, or in drama, or geography. And they’ve done amazing things outside their studies – but it’s important we prepare them for the challenges of working in an operational environment, local teams in their operating companies are integral to supporting this.“It’s really important to us to get more women in – we know they make great leaders and people managers. They care about driver engagement and customers.”The graduate programme feeds into Go-Ahead’s Women in Bus network, launched last summer [routeone/Big Story/31 July 2019].“A lot of the stuff we’re looking to do with the Women in Bus network around recruitment, we’ve been doing on the graduate programme for the last couple of years,” says Sam.That includes looking at the recruitment process, and not just at how to attract and support women, but how the business and industry are perceived by people in the first place.Before recruitment adverts are published, Go-Ahead uses a tool to check how the wording is gendered, and changes it if it is. It has also done a risk analysis for the graduate recruitment process to make sure it is not doing anything unsupportive of female candidates – a stage that’s now being taken into the Women in Bus programme.And, it tries to provide female role models, while not misrepresenting the situation. “It would be deceptive to show adverts with loads of female bus drivers,” says Sam. “But having physical role models is important, as is letting candidates know that just because we don’t have a female Managing Director at the moment, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t do that in years to come.“We frequently ask the female graduates: ‘Do you feel the role is what you applied for?’, because we want to make sure what we’re selling to them is realistic, and reflected in the roles they’re doing.”The approach has been a roaring success. The number of female applicants this year has risen to 35% of the total, up from 24% last year. And so far, 65% of Go-Ahead’s graduate offers have been made to women, which is the highest ever.But, “it’s not just women,” Sam stresses. “We support all our graduates, because the environment can be challenging. I check back in with them, and all directors have a personal responsibility to them.“Not just from a pastoral point of view, and the day-to-day ‘are they okay’, but also are they developing in the right way.”East Yorkshire’s graduate Tom – it was ‘easy’ to integrate with the newly-acquired operatorGraduates on the groundOnce each graduate is in their depot, the training largely follows the same format. “But the beauty of our business, and its devolved structure, is that each operating company has its own nuances and its own way of operating for graduates to get to grips with,” says Sam.“We do graduate events four times a year, when they come back and share those experiences. They’re not all doing the same thing at the same time – they’re involved in different projects, and after the three-week induction they stay in touch with each other, and talk among themselves about how to deal with things.”It is a particularly exciting time for Go-Ahead, with the recent acquisitions of EYMS and First Manchester providing new operating environments. This year, one graduate has gone to East Yorkshire, which sits under Go North East (GNE), and another will go to the new Go North West (GNW) next year.In both cases, setting it up has been “easy”, says Sam, because the directors at the helm – Martijn Gilbert and Ben Gilligan at GNE, and Nigel Featham at GNW – are so on board with it and passionate about encouraging new talent.“A graduate will join GNW while it’s still growing, there’ll be so many things they’ll be able to implement to make it even better, so it’s a nice project for them to get their teeth into,” says Sam.Feeding down from the top‘Each operating company has its own way of operating for graduates to get to grips with’Sam’s passion is infectious. And it’s not just her: She finds that everyone at head office is enthusiastic and invested in what the graduates are up to, feeding down from the top, with big endorsement from David Brown.“We are good at celebrating their talents,” she says. “The level of responsibility all of us feel towards them is huge – making sure they’re okay, happy and safe.“They never fly under the radar; as a business, we spend around £20m a year upscaling and developing our staff, and the graduates are a huge part of that. For that reason, it’s important that the right doors are open, they’re in quite a safe environment, and if they do make a mistake, it’s okay, and they can learn from it.“If I had my time again, I’d do a programme like this. The opportunities they get are amazing – and as an organisation, we’re really good at recognising their contribution.” A new scheme for 2021Since time of writing, the Go-Ahead Group’s graduate scheme has been restructured, enhanced and further improved.Go-Ahead reveals the company’s new scheme will now launch in January 2021, rather than September 2020, due to the impact of coronavirus COVID-19. The programme no longer offers a three-week induction in its central office. Instead candidates will have a focused, two-day introduction, with 15 days’ training spread throughout the two years.This new model, implemented through feedback, helps candidates to continually learn throughout the scheme. Graduates will also meet for physical and virtual events throughout the year and hear directly from David every quarter.Critically, its revamped programme also places more focus on wellbeing and mental health, especially the transition from university to working life.Since the publication of this article, the Go-Ahead Group’s graduate scheme has been restructured, enhanced and further improved.The Group’s new scheme will launch in January 2021, rather than September 2020, owing to the impact of coronavirus COVID-19. The programme no longer offers a three-week induction at Go-Ahead’s central office. Instead, participants will have a focused, two-day induction, with 15 days’ training spread across the two years.The new model, implemented after feedback, helps candidates to continually learns throughout the scheme. Graduates will also meet for physical and virtual events throughout the year and they will hear from Group CEO David Brown every quarter.“Critically, our revamped programme also places more focus on wellbeing and mental health, especially for the transition from university to working life,” says a spokesperson.“Given the uncertainty of coronavirus COVID-19, we are not taking on as many as 20 applicants this year, as advertisied in the original article. However, the graduate programme remains an integral part of the Go-Ahead Group, and our new focus should provide an even better offering for candidates.”
Google+ Facebook Twitter Pinterest By Associated Press – February 2, 2020 1 234 IndianaNews Facebook Scrap over old Indiana gay marriage ban derails popular bill By Photo by Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man) [GFDL 1.2 or CC BY-SA 2.5 ], from Wikimedia Commons INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A potential fight over whether to repeal Indiana’s obsolete ban on same-sex marriages has sidetracked a widely supported proposal to raise the state’s minimum age for getting married.Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says the bill wasn’t considered by a legislative deadline Thursday because of what he called a “political” amendment to abolish the same-sex marriage ban adopted in 1997.Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington defended his proposal as updating state law.Current state law allows those as young as 15 to marry if they have parental consent. The bill would make 18 the general minimum age for marriage. Previous articlePush dropped for Indiana law requiring youth bicycle helmetsNext articleEx-boyfriend accused of killing woman targeted in November Associated PressNews from the Associated Press and its network of reporters and publications. Twitter Google+ Pinterest WhatsApp WhatsApp