Operator dubbed ‘a danger to the PSV industry’ has new licence application refused at Bristol Public Inquiry
An application for a new 10-vehicle international licence by Okehampton-based Carmel Coaches, which has Anthony Hazell as one of its Directors and Transport Manager (TM), has been refused by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Denton following a Bristol Public Inquiry (PI).
Carmel Coaches was granted an international licence for 40 vehicles in May 2011. The Directors were Anthony Hazell, Michael Hazell, Anthony’s son, and Anthony’s daughter Carolyn Alderton.
The licence was subsequently revoked owing to severe maintenance shortcomings. Anthony Hazell was disqualified for 18 months from acting as a Director and TM. An appeal against those decisions was dismissed by the Upper Tribunal [routeone/Court Report/12 November 2014].
Carmel Coaches was granted an international licence for 15 vehicles in December 2016 after the TC found that Anthony Hazell’s good repute was restored [routeone/Court Report/25 January 2017]. That licence was subsequently revoked for substantial maintenance shortcomings.
TC Kevin Rooney found that Anthony Hazell had lost his good repute as a TM and disqualified him from acting as such until he retook and passed the TM CPC examination [routeone/Court Report/January 2021].
A pre-hearing statement stated that Ms Alderton was a fellow Director but would have limited involvement in the business as she had her own operation based in Bristol. The intention was to undertake mainly private hire work, as council contracts for school travel were unlikely to be awarded given the company’s previous history.
Anthony Hazell intended to drive and employ an additional driver, together with an office manager and a self-employed fitter. The initial plan had been to share safety inspections between BVS and the fitter Steven Waters.
Anthony Hazell acknowledged that there had been strong criticism of Mr Waters’ effectiveness. He was now proposing to use Scania of Exeter to undertake all pre-MoT inspections and six-weekly safety inspections. Anthony Hazell had undertaken a two-day training course in February 2021 before taking and passing the TM CPC exam. He had also undertaken a day’s tachograph training in May 2021.
Anthony Hazell said that he did not want to overstretch himself, so he had reduced his application from 10 to five vehicles, which he could comfortably manage.
BVS had been unable to accommodate his vehicles, so he had arranged with Scania to do all the periodic safety inspections. Mr Waters was coming up to retirement but for the moment would be retained as a fitter, carrying out minor repairs.
Scania or Mr Waters would prepare vehicles for MoT. Roller brake tests would be carried out every 12 weeks or at every six-week inspection if the TC preferred. He would investigate the causes of any MoT failures and address them. His vehicles’ MoT pass rate had not been bad given their age. He would undertake regular CPC refresher courses from now on.
The revocation of the company’s licence in 2020 had had a drastic and humiliating effect on him, particularly regarding his standing in the local community. He had taken on board the TC’s criticism and was determined to get it right this time.
In reply to the TC, Anthony Hazell said that he was prepared to undertake that Mr Waters would not prepare vehicles for MoT. He could live with a reduced authority of three vehicles, the number in possession, if that was what it took to be granted a licence.
He was prepared to undertake further training on how to interpret roller brake test print-outs – an issue on which TC Rooney had severely criticised him. He was prepared to rewrite the company mobile phone policy to address the issue of hands-free use, which had been a contributory factor to a fatal crash involving one of the firm’s vehicles in 2014.
Refusing the application, the TC said that there was much on the positive side. However, while admiring Anthony Hazell in some respects, he could not ignore his record or overlook some worrying current elements.
No fewer than three different TCs and the Upper Tribunal had been severely critical of Anthony Hazell and his ability to run a compliant operation over the past seven years. TC Sarah Bell expressed “grave doubts as to Anthony Hazell’s judgement and integrity. He was not capable or competent to operate the necessary systems to ensure vehicles remain roadworthy when in service and in a lawful manner”.
In dismissing the appeal, the Upper Tribunal said that “on any view, this is a very bad case”, referring to the “serious and sustained maintenance failings” involved. In October 2019, TC Nick Jones found that “Anthony Hazell is a danger to the PSV industry as he is so grossly incompetent” [routeone/Court Report/2 October 2019].
TC Kevin Rooney commented that Anthony Hazell “appears so certain in his own flawed thinking that he has simply lost the ability to listen and therefore to learn”. His “approach is old-school. There might be nothing wrong with that normally, but with Anthony Hazell, the degree is such that it makes him dangerous”.
He had rarely read such damning remarks by TCs about an individual, let alone three sets of such remarks relating to the same person. At the hearing, Anthony Hazell stated that he had indeed taken these lessons to heart and was a changed man. However, there were some elements in the application and his manner at the PI, which caused him to doubt whether that was true.
The fact that the licence application was originally for 10 vehicles and had fitter Steven Waters on a par with Scania did not convince the TC that Anthony Hazell had in mind a radically streamlined and different operation from the outset.
He had shown himself prepared to make concessions when asked to do so, but it did not seem to have occurred to him to include them in his original plans.
Anthony Hazell also appeared to forget one of the changes offered. In his prior written submission, he stated that only Scania would prepare vehicles for MoT, whereas at the hearing, he stated that both Mr Waters and Scania would do that. The issue was not a trivial one, as TC Rooney was so critical of the fact that Mr Waters appeared incapable of preparing and keeping vehicles in a condition where they would consistently pass their MoT.
He was unable to conclude that Anthony Hazell had re-established his good repute as a TM or that he could trust him or the company to comply with requirements relating to roadworthiness of vehicles.