Eastville Coaches – and its director, William George Phillips – have been disqualified from holding or obtaining an operator’s license indefinitely.
The company’s license was originally granted in 1992, after which it was involved in six public enquiries relating primarily to drivers’ hours and maintenance issues.
The sixth enquiry resulted in the firm’s license being revoked – although the Deputy Traffic Commissioner, Fiona Harrington, decided against disqualifying William or Eastville Coaches.
She commented at the time: “There has been a serious breach of the Traffic Commissioner’s trust by this operator. In the event that all or any of these persons are associated with an operator’s licence in future, then this will require very close scrutiny and careful consideration by the Traffic Commissioner by reason of this licence history.”
Despite this warning, in December 2017 William was caught out yet again. Three vehicles displaying the license of Kelvyn Terry Haines were inspected by DVSA examiners at a Bristol school.
Each vehicle received an immediate prohibition, meaning they were deemed immediately dangerous both to their passengers – school children – and other road users. The ‘door open’ warning for the driver was inoperative on two vehicles, meaning the driver would not be alerted if a child had opened an emergency exit.
Additionally, the third vehicle’s lower deck rear door catches had failed or were missing, meaning the door was ‘likely to fly open.’
Following the inspection, it was soon discovered that William had taken control of Kelvyn’s license and continued Eastville Coaches ‘as though nothing had ever happened.’
Traffic Commissioner for the West of England Kevin Rooney stated in his written confirmation of the latest enquiry: “The catalogue of failures was immense. Vehicles were in a very poor condition. None had received periodic safety inspections, due every six weeks, for almost 18 months.
“DVSA found numerous drivers hours infringements and vehicles being driven without tachograph cards in place such that it was impossible to know who had driven them and whether that driving was safe and legal.”
Subsequently, the Traffic Commissioner revoked Kelvyn’s license at a public enquiry on 27 March, 2018, and disqualified him from re-entering the industry indefinitely.
Kevin continued: “Having found that Mr Phillips and, or in the alternative, Eastville Coaches Ltd had been operating vehicles using Mr Haines’ non-transferable licence, I proposed to disqualify both Mr Phillips and his company and they were written to accordingly.
“Mr Phillips responded via his transport consultant on 18 April saying that he didn’t feel that action against him was warranted. I therefore called this public inquiry to allow Mr Phillips the opportunity to explain that statement and put his case. He has failed to attend.
“At first blush, the disqualification of an 89-year old individual may seem harsh and unnecessary. Indeed, that may have been what was in the mind of my colleague when she stepped back from disqualifying the 87-year old Mr Phillips in 2016.
“She clearly could never had envisaged that he would carry on operating, and in a way that put the lives of our children and other road users at daily risk.”