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September 23 2015
By The routeone team

The routeone team is dedicated to bringing you the latest bus & coach industry news, views, jobs and more.

Licence lost after grace period expires

Wolverhampton-based Travel Express has had its licence revoked after failing to employ a new qualified Transport Manager (TM) within the period of grace.

The company, of Coton Road, Penn, Wolverhampton, with an eight-vehicle international licence, had been called before Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Jones at a Birmingham Public Inquiry.

In January the TC cut the company’s licence from 13 vehicles to eight, ordered it to pay a financial penalty of 6,500, cancelled two of its four local services, banned it from registering any new services until 15 March 2016, and held that Director and Transport Manager Kishan Singh Chumber was unfit to act as TM until he had passed a further CPC exam, giving three months to appoint a new TM.

In that decision the TC said that whether Mr Chumber was able to defer to someone else running his business was likely to be an ongoing concern. Mr Chumber would need to allow the new TM to undertake the management role without interference. He required any new TM to attend before him.

The TC’s decision was upheld by the Upper Tribunal on appeal, who said that this was a bad case and a new TM was clearly not the complete answer, especially where the new person would probably be appointed by Mr Chumber and would then be employed by a company that had Mr Chumber as controlling mind.

The TC said that the three-month period of grace had now expired. Mr Chumber had asked for a further period of grace, which he refused. There was still no qualified TM in place and the company therefore did not have professional competence.

For the company, Paul Duncan, a Director of the Penkridge Group, said that when the period of grace was obtained Mr Chumber had not realised the difficulties in obtaining a suitable TM. It was suggested that an interim TM, David Parry, a Director of the Penkridge Group, be put in place. He would work full time at Travel Express, giving up his other duties. He was not present at the hearing because he was representing another operator before the TC in Scotland.

The TC said that he did not have a problem with Mr Parry. After financial evidence was heard in private, the TC said he had been told that Mr Parry would be paid not less than what he was earning from the Penkridge Group.

Mr Chumber said that he was willing to accept that decisions on employment and transport would be made by Mr Parry.

Adjourning the hearing for a week for Mr Parry to attend, the TC said his fear was that if he accepted the proposal without Mr Parry being before him he might change his mind.

When the hearing resumed the TC said that a letter from the Penkridge Group, signed by both Mr Duncan and Mr Parry, stated that after numerous discussions they were drawn to the conclusion that, despite assurances that the nominated TM would have autonomy and full and effective control, that was obviously not going to be the case. He understood that Penkridge was no longer representing the company.

Mr Parry said that he understood that Mr Chumber had negotiated a figure of 3,000 for an interim period while they helped select and nominate a TM, and to shadow whoever was nominated to ensure they were aware of their responsibilities. There was a considerable amount of work to be done to bring the company and Mr Chumber up to compliance.

He had conversations with Mr Chumber and they seemed to be going round in circles. He did not think that Mr Chumber could detach himself from his role. So many things needed doing immediately in the workshop.

He was quite concerned about the condition of three buses inspected by Mr Duncan. He was not willing to be the company’s TM because of the state of the vehicles and Mr Chumber. He had serious doubts that Mr Chumber would have done what he asked him to do.

Revoking the licence, the TC said that the company had been without a TM for longer than the maximum period of grace allowable. He considered that there was no prospect of Mr Chumber finding a suitable competent TM within a short time. A number of potential TMs had turned him down after discovering the poor history. He had grave concerns about road safety due to the lack of a competent TM in place.

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