Two Gwynedd operators have had their O-licences revoked and members of staff punished after one firm’s maintenance records were found to have been falsified or created, the Daily Post reported.
Inspectors from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) investigated vehicles operated by Express Motors (Penygroes) following an incident in France last year when a coach overturned on a motorway. The inspectors found tachograph readings did not tally with mileages on coaches operated by the company.
At a Public Inquiry (PI) in Welshpool, Traffic Commissioner (TC) for Wales, Nick Jones, heard that details on some maintenance records were sketchy, while others had been signed and dated but contained no other details.
He revoked the company’s O-licence from December 31 this year, and disqualified workshop manager Ian Wyn Jones from holding or applying for a transport manager’s licence for 12 months.
The TC heard the company shared maintenance facilities with another entity, a family partnership run by Eric Wyn Jones and his wife Jean, which trades as Express Motors. That company operates a large number of bus services in Gwynedd from its base in Penygroes, along with a number of contracts to take students to and from school and college in Gwynedd and Anglesey.
The TC was told the investigation did not focus on buses operated by Eric and Jean Jones’ company, and there was no evidence of any maintenance issues with vehicles run by this business. However, he concluded that Kevin Wyn Jones, who was transport manager for both entities and is Eric Jones’ son, should have realised there were maintenance anomalies, and Mr Jones was disqualified from acting as a transport manager until he takes a suitable refresher course.
The TC also revoked the licence for Eric and Jean Jones’ company from December 31 this year.
James Backhouse of Backhouse Jones Solicitors, who represented Express Motors (Penygroes), said that, although the two entities were run separately with different pools of drivers, they shared workshop facilities at the Penygroes base. He said the company accepted the findings of the DVSA report and that maintenance records were ‘not right.’
Mr Backhouse said Ian Wyn Jones, who is also Eric Jones’ son, was no longer a director and was currently off sick.
“A change of director may lead to a way forward,” he said. “They accept they need to sit down, reorganise and start again.”
Mr Backhouse said the business had brought in expertise from outside the family, but two competent transport managers had left the company in recent years for different reasons.
He said the intention was to curtail the coach hire business and concentrate on registered bus services, while Eric Wyn Jones is set to retire.
A new company – Express Motors (Caernarfon) Ltd – would be set up and apply for an O-licence to operate services and school contracts, he said.
The TC said there had been serious failings within the company, but added that an application to set up a new company would be viewed ‘sympathetically.’ However, he warned that any further breach of regulations or concerns raised by the DVSA might affect this application.