Jan’s Coaches O-licence cut after driver found without valid licence

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Operator also found to have poor maintenance record and sees O-licence cut from nine to three vehicles

A Soham coach operator has been penalised after one of its employees used a vehicle on a school journey without a valid driving licence.

Jan’s Coaches, owned by Ronald Edwards, Janet Edwards and Stuart Edwards, has been restricted to running three vehicles until June 8, 2013, following a decision by the East of England Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt.

The TC cut the partnership’s licence from nine vehicles after holding a public inquiry in Cambridge on May 23. The hearing was called to consider evidence from the VOSA relating to the driver’s offence – and problems with the firm’s vehicle maintenance.

During evidence from VOSA, Mr Turfitt was told an 80-seat coach owned by the partnership had been checked at Bottisham Village College in June 2012. The driver, David John Badcock, was found to be driving without the right type of licence for the vehicle. Further checks also revealed his licence had been revoked in 2007.

In a subsequent interview, Stuart Edwards said he had no way of knowing Mr Badcock’s licence had been revoked, as checks were only undertaken of drivers’ own licence records once a year. He promised checks would be performed every three months in the future.

Mr Badcock was prosecuted as the driver and Mr Edwards as the operator.

They both pleaded guilty and were fined before the Cambridge Magistrates’ Court in September 2012.

A further investigation was also conducted by VOSA into the coach firm’s vehicle maintenance procedures, the TC heard.

In October 2012, a vehicle examiner reported that standards were not satisfactory. He identified a number of shortcomings, including that vehicles had been issued with prohibitions for mechanical defects – one of which was for a tyre worn beyond the legal limit – and also noted the annual test failure rate was higher than the national average.

Additionally, the VOSA officer said improvements were needed to the vehicle defect reporting system used by drivers.

After hearing evidence from the partners during the inquiry, Mr Turfitt concluded the good repute of all three had been tarnished by the VOSA investigations. He also indicated that the professional competence of the Roland Edwards, in his position as transport manager, had been tarnished. Mr Edwards did not exercise the continuous and effective management required in this role, the TC determined.

Ordering the reduction of the licence by six vehicles from 2359 on May 24 to 2359hrs on June 7, the TC recorded several undertakings against the partnership, including the requirement for spot checks to be carried out on drivers every week to ensure they are recording defect checks correctly.