Nippy Bus director handed 10-year disqualification after ‘showing contempt for staff and community’

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Nippy Bus had an O-licence for 30 vehicles at the time the business closed. GEOF SHEPPARD

Operater failed to give any notice to staff or authorities before shutting and had a history of prohibitions over the past five years

After the business was closed without sufficient notice, the licence for Nippy Bus Ltd of Martock, Somerset has been revoked by Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the South West, Kevin Rooney. Sole Director and Transport Manager Sydney Philip Hardy was disqualified from acting in either of those roles for 10 years. All the action took immediate effect.

Nippy Bus Ltd held a standard national PSV O-licence authorising the use of 30 vehicles. The operator had nine registered services at the time it ceased trading.

The operator closed his business with no notice on Sunday, October 29. A letter of explanation, dated October 25, 2017 but received at the Office of the Traffic Commissioner on October 31, points to issues such as driver shortages and the difficulties of operating buses in a rural environment. Mr Hardy closes: “As you read this, we have ceased to trade and are surrendering our licence. While I will be left with personal debt due to director’s personal guarantees that will cost me everything I own and more, at least I know I will never have to work in this industry again.”

The TC commented: “The holders of PSV O-licences are authorised to, in simple terms, earn a living and make a profit from providing a public service, but with that authority and opportunity comes responsibility and duty, most importantly a duty to the members of the community who come to rely on the service to get to work or to school, to social events or to attend medical appointments.

“There is no doubt that spending pressures from central and local Government make operating rural bus services a challenge. Mr Hardy was perfectly entitled to bring his operation to an end. But he needed to do so in a way which allowed an opportunity for those services to be replaced or, at the very least, for his patrons to make alternative arrangements. That is why the law requires 56 days’ notice of changes to or cancellations of registered bus services.

“In closing his business as he did, Mr Hardy showed utter contempt, not just for his staff who were laid off with no notice, but also for the community which he served. Mr Hardy says he is leaving the PSV industry. It is right that he does so. It may be that my decision now has no effect on him and his future plans but in making it, I hope it may persuade other operators in a similar situation to manage any closure in a better way. Mr Hardy has lost his good repute as transport manager and as an operator.”

Along with the untimely closure, DVSA evidence revealed that 19 prohibition notices were issued to the operator’s vehicles in the past five years. In October 2017, vehicle YO53ZNG was issued a prohibition for a door not operating correctly. When presented to DVSA to have the prohibition removed, it received another prohibition for a missing brake pad securing pin on the front axle. Presented again later that same day, it was prohibited again for the replacement pin being too small such that it was going to fall out.