A Wembley-based school transport operator has lost his licence to run vehicles after Traffic Commissioner (TC) for London and the South East, Nick Denton, concluded that he deserved to go out of business.
The TC said he had no confidence in Clive Smart complying in the future after he put children in a vehicle which didn’t have the right MOT.
Mr Smart was also found to have knowingly operated more vehicles than he was legally allowed to and didn’t give his vehicles regular safety inspections – with up to six months between safety checks in some cases.
Disqualifying Mr Smart from holding a licence for three months, Nick Denton said: “Mr Smart has shown that, even when faced with a public inquiry, he is prepared to continue to operate beyond authority.
“An operator who puts children in a vehicle which has the wrong (and insufficient) class of MOT and lacks the required children’s signs, or in vehicles which have not been given thorough safety inspections, and who lends out his licence to enable school runs to be operated by a driver who has not passed his certificate of professional competence deserves to go out of business.”
The industry regulator also made an order to disqualify Mr Smart as a transport manager. He will have to retake and pass the transport manager CPC exam before he can carry out this role again.
“Mr Smart has fallen far short of the standards I would expect of a reputable transport manager and has been far too slow to take any meaningful action to remedy this,” the TC said.
“The loss of his repute, in the face of his deliberate and sustained operation beyond legal authority and the serious maintenance failings reported, is a proportionate outcome.”
Government inspectors found issues with Mr Smart’s operation in February and March 2016, after stopping his vehicles at two schools.
On February 22, a traffic examiner from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) encountered one of Mr Smart’s vehicles at the Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Checks showed that the driver of the vehicle, Roland Andrews, did not hold a Driver CPC qualification.
Mr Andrews told the examiner he was working on behalf of Clive Smart and had travelled from Twickenham to drop pupils off, before returning to pick them up later. Mr Smart stated that Roland Andrews was self-employed, but carrying out the journey under his O-licence.
On March 21, the DVSA examiner was monitoring vehicles being used to transport pupils to the Henrietta Barnet School, in the Hampstead Garden Suburb. He encountered three vehicles being operated by Clive Smart, despite his licence only allowing the use of two vehicles.
Mr Smart, who was driving one of the vehicles, admitted he was running all three vehicles under his licence even though it only gave him permission to operate two. He was also unable to produce his Driver CPC card and given a £50 fixed penalty notice.
After hearing evidence at a public inquiry in Eastbourne on September 14, the TC concluded that Mr Smart had done disappointingly little to improve standards since the issues were brought to his attention.
“There is little, beyond unfulfilled good intentions, on the positive side of the balance,” he remarked. He added that if Mr Smart were ever to apply for a licence again, he would need to undergo a complete change of culture.