Action may be taken after unauthorised operation of Viking Coaches

Directors’ father was alleged to be operating without authorisation, but the TC is yet to decide to act against firm

Traffic Commissioner (TC) Simon Evans is considering possible action against the 19-vehicle International O-Licence held by Swadlincote-based Vikingcoaches.com. Trading as Viking Coaches, it follows unauthorised operation in Leicestershire by Paul Garratt, father of the company’s Directors James and Adam Garratt.

The company had made an application for a new two-vehicle International O-Licence based at Melton Mowbray in the Eastern Traffic Area but at the outset, Harry Bowyer, for the company, said that it wished to withdraw that application.

The TC said that the nub of the case seemed to be that after he revoked the O-Licence held by Melton Mowbray-based Coach and Bus Services [routeone/Court Report/25 July and 5 September 2018] Paul Garratt had been operating vehicles facilitated by Viking in order to continue the Coach and Bus Services business.

Viking’s vehicles were being operated from an unauthorised operating centre at Melton Mowbray, which the DVSA alleged was unlawful and that operation was controlled by Viking’s Directors.

Mr Bowyer said that it was not disputed that Viking had operated from an unauthorised operating centre. It was done to serve two contracts that Viking held in that area.

Viking ceased operating from Melton Mowbray following the visit from the Traffic Examiners (TEs) in January 2019 and one of the three contracts was subsequently surrendered.

The other two were operated from Swadlincote, with the drivers parking at Melton Mowbray in between runs.

They had been wrongly advised by a previous Transport Manager (TM) that they could use an operating centre outside their area as long as the vehicles were rotated every two weeks.

James and Adam Garratt had nothing to do with their father’s operations in Leicestershire. Viking Coaches was not involved in those operations.

The driver of a coach that was displaying a Viking O-Licence disc had said that he was driving for Viking when he was not.

TE Maxine Wolf said that four vehicles were being operated from Melton Mowbray.

Paul Garratt had said that he was not listed as a Director at Companies House but that he was still a “Director”. She believed that he was the main person behind all of the operations. He knew the business inside out.

She was told that vehicles were on hire to Anis Patel of Tour Europe, although no hiring agreement was ever produced.

On a further visit she saw four vehicles leaving Melton Mowbray, one being driven by Paul Garratt. She spoke to the driver who stopped to close the gate. He said that he was working for and was paid by Paul Garratt. He had no idea who Anis Patel was.

TE Anita Barwell said that Anis Patel had said that he had not operated for some time and that Paul Garratt had asked if he could use his O-Licence discs until his own came through.

Adam Garratt denied that he had allowed his father to use Viking’s coaches and discs. He said that he had not known what his father was doing.

The vehicle stopped in December displaying a Viking disc did not belong to Viking. They had borrowed the vehicle from his father and failed to remove the disc in error when they returned it.

His father used to buy vehicles and register them in Viking’s name. Viking had not operated all the vehicles he had registered in its name.

His father was currently Viking’s workshop manager and he did some driving. His father had no financial interest in Viking and accepted that he had been operating pretending to be Anis Patel.

If necessary, an undertaking would be given that Paul Garratt would have no part in the Viking business whatsoever.

James Garratt said that he concentrated on vehicle maintenance. He had been unaware that Melton Mowbray was being used. He had had no idea what his father had been getting up to in Leicestershire.

The TC is to issue a written decision.