Final warning for one Garratt firm, revocation for another

Maintenance problems and material change have resulted in Viking Coaches Com receiving a final warning and Coach & Bus Services having its licence revoked by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Simon Evans.

Swadlincote-based Viking Coaches Com, with a 21-vehicle international licence, and Melton Mowbray-based Coach & Bus Services, with a 12-vehicle national licence, had appeared before the TC at a Golborne Public Inquiry (PI).

The Director of the two companies, Paul Garratt, said two of four vehicles given prohibitions were off the road awaiting repair but unfortunately did not have VOR notices in the windscreen.

The other two vehicles came in from school runs. The first vehicle had a seat that had been damaged that morning. The driver of the second vehicle had caught a tyre on the kerb on his way in.

A lot of prohibitions were due to drivers not reporting defects, but they now did gate checks on vehicles leaving to make sure the drivers’ walk-round checks had been done properly.

Director and Transport Manager (TM) Adam Garratt admitted that a promise made, that an external consultant would carry out inspections of the vehicles after they had had their preventative maintenance inspections, did not happen. Similarly, quarterly checks of 10% of vehicle records were now six-monthly. He said that was assisted in his TM’s role for both Viking and Coach & Bus by his sister, who would be taking her CPC examination.

The TC said that a Vehicle Examiner had reported that he was told that Coach & Bus was moving from Thurmaston to a site at Melton Mowbray, which was not on the licence.

Paul Garratt said that both sites had been on the partnership licence and when his father Bryan retired he had assumed that they were both on the Coach & Bus licence [routeone/Court Report/25 July].

In a written decision, the TC said that it was argued that Coach and Bus never intended to create danger by the deployment of its vehicles, although it somewhat oddly accepted that its running of that business was more akin to “a hobby or an addiction”.

It was inadequately funded to support its purposes. Adam Garratt initially referred to meeting the directors on a Saturday morning and that only recently had a decision been made for Jessica Garrett to study so that she might be appointed as a TM alongside him.

In revoking the Coach & Bus licence, the outcome of that decision would be to narrow the focus of the immediate Garratt family in respect of PSV operations to a single business.

It seemed to be the case that financial standing for a single business was also more likely to be satisfied without relying on now-retired family members.

Some positive changes had very belatedly been made in practices which ought to be capable of supporting the compliant operation of vehicles for a much-reduced overall fleet.

Trust and confidence in this business had however been seriously undermined and it would be necessary for attitudes to change if this licence was to survive in the long term.

Systems must urgently be put in place to monitor and quality assure the fitness and serviceability of vehicles. The TC was not satisfied that, considering the history, he could be assured that the sort of failures that had led once again to PI would not be repeated in the future, where most of the key characters in the business would remain as before.

He required an undertaking that by 10 November at the latest a suitably experienced additional TM be appointed on the basis that such a post holder would attend the business on at least one full day per fortnight to carry out duties alongside Adam Garratt.