Manchester restricted licence bid rejected for main occupation and operating centre

A bid for a new two-vehicle restricted licence by Droylesden, Manchester-based David Sweeney, trading as Buzz Travel, was rejected by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Simon Evans because of a failure to meet the main occupation rule and the unsuitability of the proposed operating centre.

In his decision, the TC said that in relation to the proposed operating centre Mr Sweeney believed the forecourt of his residential address would be adequate.

The series of photographs provided by Mr Sweeney showed a tarmac forecourt separated only by some contrast stonework from the public pavement itself.

He was told that the manoeuvring of the PSVs so that reversing out directly onto the road might be avoided would include reversing onto the frontage of his neighbour’s property, for which permission had been given.

However, he was not satisfied that that would provide a suitable solution since whether there was room to do so would not be in the Mr Sweeney’s hands, and that it would depend on how the two licensed vehicles were lined up together with Mr Sweeney’s personal vehicle and any visitors’ cars.

Therefore he had concluded that the proposed operating centre was technically unsuitable for its purpose.

He was entitled to consider road safety issues. He considered there was an unacceptable and heightened risk to passers-by in this largely residential area, as the vehicles would be reversing across a public pavement in the ordinary course of their operation.

Mr Sweeney contended that his role as one of three directors of DPL Building Services should be regarded as his main occupation.

The profit and loss account for the year ended 31 March 2018 for DPL Building Services recorded a loss for the financial year, following a smaller loss in the year to March 2017. No dividend had been distributed in either of those financial years.

He noted that Mr Sweeney’s wage from that company was very close to the then current level of the personal allowance for tax purposes, equating to an income of £221 per week.

David Sweeney was unable to tell him whether for the 2018-2019 financial year that had just ended, the company’s fortunes had improved. He had seen no evidence of the profitability of the company or any reliable estimate thereof for the most recent tax year, despite it being requested.

David Sweeney had said he intended to do airport transport work, football excursions and stag/hen parties. In addition he hoped to be successful in obtaining school contracts.

He agreed with Mr Sweeney’s estimate that contract values were worth between £400-500 per week for local authority term-time contracts. At such rates per week, each vehicle could provide an income, albeit before expenditure, of between £15,200 and £19,000 on any school contracts alone.

He considered it to be significantly more likely than not that even deploying a single vehicle to school contract work, when coupled to other PSV activity of the sort described, that the income from PSV operations would outstrip that of the main occupation.