No excuses, and a stern warning

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Bouden Travel was called to a public inquiry following an adverse finding by the DVSA with regard to drivers’ hours. CHRISTOPHER HARMAN

A West Midlands operator and its transport manager faceda severe reprimand over drivers’ hours offences, but were given a reprieve accompanied by a strong warning over future non-compliance

A joint public inquiry (PI) was held on 21 March to consider a case involving West Midlands operator Bouden Travel Ltd and its transport manager Sophie Baugh. The case was heard at the office of the Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the West Midlands Traffic Area in Birmingham by TC Miles Dorrington, and the resultant decision published on 23 April.

Bouden Travel is the holder of a standard international public service vehicle operator’s licence (PD1138814), and following adverse findings, a number of sanctions were imposed by the TC. The operator’s licence was granted in July 2015 and in the period to 2023 it had received two written warnings from the Traffic Commissioner for adverse compliance events. Then on 4 May 2023, after a routine stop by the DVSA, it was established that two drivers had removed their digital tachograph card and carried on driving, which prompted a formal DVSA investigation that ultimately resulted in the operator and transport manager being called to PI.

Poor start

The DVSA was not present at the PI, but evidence from the DVSA consisted of a statement from traffic examiner Bateman, given at the original PI which was adjourned and reconvened on 21 March, and his supplemental statement. The operator and Ms Baugh were represented by solicitor Mr Oliver. Director Mr Adel Bouden and Transport Manager Sophie Baugh did not arrive until after the 1000hrs start time, meaning that the PI was unable to begin until 1035. Also present via Microsoft Teams was a driver formerly employed by the operator who had been called to a conjoined driver conduct hearing.

The TC expressed displeasure at the late start, and made it clear that he would determine whether that failure to attend a formal public inquiry on time amounted to a failure to co-operate with the Traffic Commissioner or was a matter that went to the good repute of the operator and/or transport manager.

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