Three-year ban for Ayr operator

Ayr-based minibus operator Kenneth Donald, trading as Kenny’s Minibus Hire, was disqualified for three years from holding or obtaining a PSV O-Licence after his one-vehicle restricted licence was revoked by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken.

In addition the TC suspended his vocational PSV driving entitlement for three months. Mr Donald, of Gilchrist Place, Mossblown, Ayr, appeared before the TC at an Edinburgh Public Inquiry.

Vehicle Examiner Robert Handley said that Mr Donald’s minibus, which was carrying passengers, was stopped on 8 February 2014. An ‘S’ marked prohibition was imposed for window glazing missing on the offside rear, replaced by plyboard secured by self-tapping screws that were protruding into the vehicle’s interior.

In an e-mail, Mr Donald said the boarded window was broken on 30 January. He boarded it and covered it with gaffer tape, and covered the protruding screws with insulating tape to prevent injury. The replacement window had to be ordered from Germany. As he had school runs and various other jobs, he had no option but to use the minibus.

Traffic Examiner (TE) James Sweetin said he analysed 139 tachograph record sheets from 30 July 2013 to 24 February 2014, and found that Mr Donald regularly left the record sheet in the tachograph.

Mr Donald was not adhering to the requirement for daily and weekly rest, failed to take appropriate breaks after 4.5 hours’ driving, and exceeded the daily driving limit. He spoke to Mr Donald who explained that he was a ‘one-man band’ doing all the available work.

On a further visit to Mr Donald on 3 July 2014, he found no systems to ensure compliance with the drivers’ hours and tachograph rules and Working Time Directive.

Mr Donald scheduled his hours, was the sole driver and recorded his work in a diary. A further 83 charts for 25 February to 6 June 2014 were checked and again there were instances of failing to take daily or weekly rest.

Mr Donald said that at first he had been a self-employed joiner, with the minibus to provide extra income, but over the years the minibus operation evolved and became his main business.

Mr Donald said that when he first got a tachograph no one said to take the disc out, and so he was leaving the disc in and thought the flat line would show he was resting.

After hearing financial evidence in private, the TC said that Mr Donald could not demonstrate that he had the necessary finance.

The TC said that Mr Donald might have gained his licence fairly and properly with good intention. However, at no time prior to the TE’s call had he taken necessary steps to understand what was required of him as an operator.

He was woefully ignorant of how to use a tachograph. From about 2012 he ceased to be a full-time joiner and allowed his main occupation to be a minibus operator and driver. He took work when available and with no heed to drivers’ hours rules. There was an instance of him working for 15 days without a weekly rest.

Quite simply, he was taking the work when it came his way. Even after he attended a course in May 2014, he still had infringements in July 2014.

It would have cost to hire another vehicle pending Mr Donald’s being repaired. Having seen his finances, she placed impecuniosity at the heart of the decision to run for eight days without that repair.

Mr Donald reflected some of the poorest aspects of restricted operating. He offended against fair competition and TCs despaired of the amateurism that could pervade restricted operating.