STAFF working for Arriva in Darlington have raised a number of safety concerns after a colleague tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.

Bus drivers based at Arriva's Faverdale depot have alleged safety measures are being ignored, buses are not being cleaned, and that some have faced disciplinary action for trying to enforce rules on face coverings.

On Thursday, Arriva confirmed that a staff member at the Darlington depot had tested positive for Covid-19 as it said the company is following government guidelines.

READ MORE: Arriva bus driver from Darlington depot tests positive for Covid

But bus drivers have since come forward, alleging the company is not taking Covid-19 measures 'seriously', and that more cases among colleagues in the company are 'inevitable'.

One bus driver raised concerns over the company's canteen and office area on Tubwell Row and said staff taking breaks there had been placed at an increased risk of contracting the virus.

They said: "There's no social distancing inside the canteen area, no-one wears a mask and groups of drivers congregate in the office to find out what shift they are on.

"We have been told that only a limited number of people can stay in the canteen but it is not monitored by anyone – there's only one entrance for the whole place even though there is a fire escape which could be used."

The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, said staff were further concerned after claiming Arriva did not close or deep clean the canteen area after the Covid-19 case was confirmed.

They said: "The driver in question that came down with Covid had come in and had a four hour break there, and had been speaking to people."

The driver said the situation had been made worse after claiming some staff had been reluctant to ask members of the public to wear face coverings following a series of disciplinary actions at the depot.

The driver said: "Drivers feel scared to ask people because there has been instances where they have asked a passenger, then the passenger has refused and then gone to the company, and they have got disciplined for it.

"They don't have your back – and with this sort of thing going on, the Covid case was inevitable. We are all scared to say or report anything."

Another Darlington bus driver told us that buses at the depot were not being cleaned thoroughly as he said staff did not feel adequately 'protected' against Covid-19.

They said: "The buses are getting cleaned less, but I think this is to save money.

"Inside, cleaners have been seen using the same water, not using a fresh supply of water and using the same cloths - none of us feel protected at all."

The driver, who also wishes to remain anonymous, slammed Arriva for the handling of the confirmed case earlier this week. 

They said: "None of us were told anything after the driver tested positive, the information has been vague, but people in that canteen were stood less than 2 metres from that person.

"They're saying they can't do anything because of GDPR rules - if one or two of us goes on the sick, then a bus has to be taken off the road.

“There is lot contempt for Arriva because of this," they added.

In response to the allegations, Arriva said the safety of customers and staff was of 'upmost importance' and said it would be conducting a 'rigorous' review in Darlington immediately.

A spokesperson for Arriva said: "Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the safety of our customers and of our staff has been of upmost importance to Arriva.

"We have introduced stringent social distancing measures across all of our depots and non-operational offices, these are in line with government guidance and we continually monitor this, adapting our internal procedures and Covid-19 processes if required, reacting to any mandated changes in guidance.

"We fully believe Darlington Depot has continually adhered to all COVID19 guidance & protocols introduced, however we take allegations such as these made to The Northern Echo seriously and will conduct a rigorous review of all processes at the depot immediately."