Failings of rural operator bring it to PI

Backbarrow-based Blueworks Taxis, an operator of rural services for isolated Cumbrian villages, has to wait to see what action Traffic Commissioner (TC) Simon Evans is to take against its licence because of concerns over vehicle maintenance.

The company, with a four-vehicle national licence, had been called before the TC at a Golborne Public Inquiry.

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Friends of the X112, was formed after the local authority was unable to continue to support route 11 and X12 that were vital to isolated villages in the local rural community

Asked about a second nominated Transport Manager (TM) Belinda Tattersfield – who was not present and who had resigned in March – Director and TM Philip Halliwell said that she had started in 2015. She had resigned after circumstances at home changed. She had not attended for some time. He had only paid her once. She had volunteered her services to help.

The TC said there was no such thing as a volunteer TM.

For the company, David Glover said a group supporting the company, Friends of the X112, was formed after the local authority was unable to continue to support route 11 and X12 that were vital to isolated villages in the local rural community.

Because the Group was concerned about succession if anything happened to Mr Halliwell, he thought he needed someone to come into the business. Miss Tattersfield did not take on the normal roles of a TM. She was never a TM in the traditional sense.

After advice from a Vehicle Examiner who carried out maintenance investigation in November, the driver defect reporting system had been completely changed. inspections were being reduced from 10 to eight weeks and Mr Halliwell was booked on a TM refresher course.

Two vehicles preventative maintenance inspection dates were close together. A vehicle checked in service on 14 November with its ABS warning light on, should have been in for its preventative maintenance inspection but had been delayed due to the contactor’s vehicle lift being blocked by the other vehicle which had been found to have a major brake fault.

Mr Halliwell said that in hindsight he should have cancelled the service for those two days. They had been short of vehicles at the time after a vehicle was written off in an accident in July. The light had been on and off several times and the garage had said that it seemed to be due to drivers releasing the handbrake too quickly.

In reply to the TC, he said that the services required four vehicles. They were down to three at the moment and he was using a Special Restricted licence that the company held. To make the services more viable he wanted to reduce the X11 and X12 services and grow the X70 into nearby villages. They had had to go to the cheaper end of the market for vehicles because the services were not making enough money, leading to difficulties with maintenance.

The TC is to issue a written decision at a later date.