Emsworth & District licence revocation date extended

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Emsworth & District has operated on the West Sussex, Hampshire border for around 40 years. ANDY IZATT

Operator satisfied the TC’s requirements and the revocation of the licence has been delayed

In an oral decision made on May 2, 2018 and confirmed in writing two days later, Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the South East & Metropolitan Traffic Area, Sarah Bell revoked the 18-vehicle O-licence held by Southbourne-based Emsworth & District Motor Services Ltd and accepted the resignation of Paul Rutherford John Lea as Transport Manager.

She also accepted his personal assurance that he will not seek to be a transport manager in the future.

“The systems and procedures necessary to ensure vehicles are roadworthy in service had not been sufficiently robust for some time,” said the TC.

“The DVSA Vehicle Examiner’s evidence in terms of the December 2017 investigation are unchallenged. The failings were basic but significant, e.g. numerous Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) sheets with the declaration not signed off to confirm the vehicle roadworthy.

“PMI brake assessment sections were blank or the entries meaningless such as ‘locks.’ Oral assurances that proper brake tests were done and vehicles were fit is evidence of a system not working. A system not working is no system at all. The modern O-Licensing regime requires a proper audit trail.”

“The operator has not produced any evidence of financial standing. It was due by April 24, 2018, but nothing has been sent to my office.”

“I know that this operator has provided crucial services for 40 years to the local community. It is an area I know well. It is an area that I have worked in in a previous life.

“They have been relied on and indeed, they have subsidised services to support the local community when many operators would have simply walked away. However, my role is road safety and the operator’s systems are just not fit for the purpose at present.

“I have not disqualified the operator or the individuals. At this current time the family are seeking to retire. Mr Paul Lea has given me his assurances that he is retiring but I am not ruling out a return for any of the directors should they decide – Caren Lea is shaking her head – but it is just there.

“If any of them do want to then they need to persuade a TC that their systems are robust and meet the requirements of the modern O-Licensing regime.”

Following the decision, the operator made a request to extend the revocation date and that has been considered by the TC. To provide road safety assurances in the event of an extension, the TC required the formal nomination of an individual to provide transport manager duties for the licence, full time.

Michael John Elkin was nominated. The operator satisfied the requirement and the revocation of the licence will therefore now take effect at 2345hrs on July 31, 2018.

Michael John Elkin is a director of Gosport-based Portsmouth City Coaches Ltd trading as Emsworth Buses, which has two new O-Licence applications under consideration – one in the West of England traffic area and another in London and the South East of England.