Director’s ‘bad day’ leads to two-day cut

Bolton operator had left tachograph records behind and let down passengers

What the sole Director of Bolton-based Bestway Minibuses described as “one of my bad days” led to the company’s licence being cut from six vehicles to two for 48 hours by Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Miles Dorrington.

The company, of Wigan Road, Bolton, and its former Transport Manager (TM) Michael McCabe, had been called before the DTC at a Golborne Public Inquiry. At the outset an application to increase the authorisation from six to 10 vehicles was withdrawn.

Traffic Examiner (TE) Aidan McCabe said that in January 2015 a 16-seater minibus laden with passengers and driven by sole Director Ismail Patel was stopped in a routine check in Manchester. The minibus was not displaying a PSV O-Licence disc and Mr Patel said he had forgotten to put it in the windscreen.

Examination of the tachograph records produced showed that he had only had six hours 50 minutes’ daily rest. He produced a second chart for that day which was blank. Asked to produce tachograph charts for the previous the 28 days, he was only able to produce six charts, saying that the other charts were in other vehicles.

Mr Patel was issued with a prohibition notice. Alternative travel arrangements were made for the passengers, who became extremely angry with Mr Patel.

When he visited the company’s premises it appeared that the then TM Michael McCabe was not doing anything like the 25 hours he was contracted for. Mr Patel said that he was looking for another TM, yet Mr McCabe was still listed as TM in November 2015. He was satisfied that the school contract work was being properly recorded and the vehicle files were in order.

Mr Patel said he accepted that he needed to keep a tighter rein on things. He was proposing to implement all the recommendations made by a transport consultant who had carried out an audit in November. Further audits would be carried out in May and September. He no longer did any driving.

In relation to allegations made by Michael McCabe in an email, he said that that it was not true that Mr McCabe had difficulty contacting him. There had been no difficulty in him accessing the records at his house and it was not true that he had not co-operated with him. 

In reply to the DTC, Mr Patel said that he had continued to pay Michael McCabe for 25 hours a week as he had expected him to come down. He had not seen Michael McCabe regularly. He had struggled to find a new TM but they had now applied for Gary Young to be nominated as the company’s TM. He had met with him about four times so far. 

After the DTC had said that he found it incredulous that as sole Director Mr Patel had forgotten so many things on the day of the check in Manchester, he said that it was one of his bad days. He would make sure it would not happen again.  

Michael McCabe said that after initially setting the systems up he did not need to do as many hours. He was not running the transport and had been just checking documents. 

Curtailing the company’s licence for 48 hours, the DTC said that there was insufficient evidence to justify revocation but there was sufficient to justify some action placing a marker on the company’s file. Mr Patel had got it wrong on the day but the company was generally compliant.

What had happened on that day was not acceptable, and the way that the passengers had been left should not be happening in the PSV industry.

The DTC gave the company one month’s grace to nominate a new TM and to produce evidence of the finance that he had been told was available in private session.

Taking no action against Michael McCabe, the DTC said that he should have told the TC about the problems he was having. He was satisfied things had generally been effective but Mr McCabe didn’t step away soon enough.