TC to take action against Bearwood Coaches

William Burnett believed he was ‘the best’ – but the TC begged to differ

Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Denton indicated that he proposed taking significant regulatory action against the 60-vehicle O-Licence held by Smethwick-based William Burnett, trading as Bearwood Coaches, at the close of a Birmingham Public Inquiry (PI).

The TC said that at a PI in 2018 the licence was curtailed to 40 vehicles because of maintenance issues. The licence was subsequently restored to 60 vehicles after a satisfactory audit. Assurances given at that PI had not been adhered to. Mr Burnett was of the opinion that he operated the best business.

He came over as having a closed mind to keeping proper records and as someone who rejected well-meant advice. He found it incredible that the previous assurances had come to nothing.

“I have to get through to you that you can’t carry on as you are,” he told Mr Burnett. Adding that he either fitted in with the modern way or he should get out of the industry.

Vehicle Examiner (VE), Austin Jones, said it was not disputed that vehicle maintenance was being carried out. The issue was records and it was a similar mirror picture to the previous year. Six vehicles were examined at each visit and no prohibitions issued.

The TC said that they were the least detailed maintenance records that he had seen for some time. When he pointed out that there were no tyre tread depths on the inspection records, Mr Burnett said they did not work on tread depths. If a tyre was close to the limit, they put a new one on.

One of the three prohibitions issued had been for a tyre with cords exposed on the outer wall, said the TC.

Mr Burnett agreed that he had not kept assurances to ensure that vehicles would be inspected every eight weeks, that there would be printouts of roller brake tests three times a year, and that there would be printouts of three-monthly driver licence checks. He said that since the VEs visit he had changed the driver defect reporting system. He admitted that the drivers did not have a checklist and that they just put a tick if they found a defect without noting what the defect was.

The TC said that over the last 12 months there was a 38% failure rate at annual test. That did not suggest that the vehicles were being maintained to the minimum standard. After Mr Burnett had said that recently of 14 vehicles presented for test only three failed, the TC commented that that was still a failure rate of over 20%.

Mr Burnett said that he had been operating for 30 years. His vehicles had never been involved in any personal injury accidents. He only did school contracts for Birmingham City Council. “They will tell you I am the best,” said Mr Burnett. He could not answer why he did not keep records like other operators, saying most of the maintenance was done in between the eight-weekly inspections. His operation was one of the best. He did his own thing and had done so for many years.