Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the West of England cuts Gloucester Minibuses Ltd’s operators licence from eight vehicles to one vehicle for a period of nine days during February
The operator’s licence held by Gloucester Minibus Ltd was called to a Public Inquiry before the Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the West of England, Fiona Harrington, on 13 February 2019. The regulatory hearing followed an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) into the company’s vehicle maintenance standards in September 2018.
A DVSA vehicle examiner reported the company to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner after concluding his investigation. The examiner found issues with the company’s vehicle safety inspection records, including that they were not fully completed and that some were missing. There was no forward planning system in place for safety inspections and the company had changed its maintenance provider without telling the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. There were also concerns about the quality of daily vehicle defect checks carried out by drivers.
Some of the missing vehicle safety inspection records were subsequently provided to the DVSA examiner. The company admitted there had been oversights and mistakes leading to the shortcomings and explained what measures had been put in place to improve safety inspections, forward planning and driver defect reporting.
After hearing further evidence from the company during the inquiry, the Deputy Commissioner made a direction to reduce the company’s licence from eight vehicles to one vehicle with effect from 2359hrs on 15 February 2019 for a period of nine consecutive days ending at 2359hrs on Sunday 24 February 2019. She directed that the company’s licence would be reduced thereafter from eight vehicles to seven vehicles with effect from 0000hrs on Monday 25 February 2019.
Miss Harrington also determined that the repute of the operator, acting by its sole director, Steven Smee, and of its Transport Manager (a role occupied by Mr Smee) has been very seriously tarnished, which arose from serious failings in the basic obligation to effectively and continuously manage and monitor the vehicle maintenance arrangements and documentation for extended periods in 2018.
In reaching her decision, the Deputy Commissioner relied heavily on the admissions and assurances of Mr Smee given at the inquiry as to the company’s future ongoing compliance and his performance of the duties of transport manager.
The Deputy Commissioner placed Mr Smee in no doubt that the continuation of the company’s licence requires those assurances to be delivered. The company agreed to a number of commitments as part of the decision, which covers: the frequency of vehicle safety inspections and brake testing, the provision of maintenance contracts, the transport manager completing a refresher course, an independent audit of all compliance systems and records and finally the nomination of a new transport manager to act alone or jointly with Mr Smee.