Clayton Jones set to return to Welsh bus operation

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The Traffic Commissioner for Wales has granted a licence for the operation of eight vehicles

Following a Public Inquiry (PI) held on 7 December 2021 at Pontypridd, Traffic Commissioner for Wales Victoria Davies has granted a standard national operators licence to Clayton Jones T/A Street Buses, subject to conditions, with authorisation for the use of eight vehicles. Mr Jones founded Shamrock Travel, which grew to operate a fleet of over 220 vehicles across South Wales, before selling the business to Veolia in 2006. He subsequently set up Heart of Wales Bus and Coach Company, which traded as St David’s Travel and went on to attract the attention of then Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones at a Public Inquiry following complaints of non-compliance, and which despite a successful appeal ultimately was placed into liquidation.

Following Mr Jone’s latest application, he agreed to an undertaking being attached to the licence that the operator will arrange an independent audit to be carried out by the RHA, Logistics UK, or other suitable independent body, by 13 September this year to assess the systems for complying with maintenance and drivers’ hours requirements, and the effectiveness with which those systems are implemented, and a copy of the audit report, together with the operator’s detailed proposals for implementing the report’s recommendations, sent to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) for Wales’ office within 14 days of the date when the operator receives it from the auditor.

Public Inquiry

In attendance at the PI were the applicant and proposed transport manager, Clayton Jones, along with Roger Waters, Director of Frontline Services, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, a statutory objector.

Giving background, the Traffic Comissioner (TC) explained that the Central Licensing Office had received an application on 14 July 2021 for a standard national public service vehicle operator’s licence authorising eight vehicles in the name of Clayton Francis Jones T/A Street Buses. The applicant was called to attend a PI in Pontypridd on 7 December by a call up letter, which set out the areas of concern including his past operator licence compliance and application history. The call up letter also referred to a statutory objection to the application received by way of letter dated 11 August 2021 from Roger Waters, Director of Frontline Services at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCT), a copy of which had also been sent to the applicant.

The call up letter advised the applicant that the TC had considered the letter of objection and determined that all the matters raised concerning his previous operations appeared to pre-date the decision of the Upper Tribunal at appeal (T/2011/28), and that she intended to proceed on the basis of the Upper Tribunal findings and would not revisit or admit any evidence in that regard at the inquiry. The call up letter also indicated that Clayton Jones would be expected to demonstrate how he meets the requirements to hold an operator’s licence.

Following correspondence from the applicant to OTC staff and others, the TC issued Case Management Directions on 24 November regarding the scope of the Public Inquiry with a view to ensuring that the hearing was dealt with expeditiously and efficiently. In advance of the hearing, written representations were received from Mr Jones along with supporting documentation used during the hearing.

Roger Waters attended the hearing on behalf of the statutory objector, RCT, to observe proceedings. He was not called to give evidence but was invited to confirm the position regarding a Private Hire Vehicle Licence application that Clayton Jones had made to RCT. Mr Waters confirmed tha RCT had granted that application in September last year.

Application granted

On the basis of the evidence presented, the TC considered that the applicant was in a position to run his operation compliantly. The TC said that he has taken steps to update his knowledge, including attendance at a transport manager refresher training course and at several driver CPC training modules, and acknowledged that he learned a lot during that process and that things had moved on since he last operated.

The TC said that it will be for Mr Jones to demonstrate that he can work with the regulator upon grant of this licence. Due to his past compliance and application history and length of time out of the industry, in correspondence following the hearing the TC asked him to agree to an undertaking to have an independent systems compliance audit in nine months’ time, a condition which Mr Jones agreed to. Therefore, TC Davies found that the requirements were satisfied, and granted the application on 13 December.