Westbury-based N&K Tours and Watford-based Barry Deakin, trading as Eagle Cars, have been given three months grace to obtain another Transport Manager (TM) after their TM Keith Bute lost his repute. He was disqualified from acting as a TM for three years and until he passes a further CPC examination by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney, who held that he had acted as a TM in name only for Lee-on-the-Solent-based Clarks Caravan & Boat Haulage Ltd following a Bristol Public Inquiry.
The TC said that applications to add TMs to those licences would need to come before a Traffic Commissioner within that time to ensure that the arrangement was proper. He made it plain that that implied no criticism of the operators concerned.
Mr Bute had attended Clarks’ operating centre around once a month, said the TC. He had dealt with a lead driver rather than a director. He had done that by sending text messages. Text messages did not add up to continuous and effective management of a transport operation. He took no action over wholly unacceptable maintenance arrangements. He had, during 2018 at least, made no realistic attempt to debrief drivers on hours infringements and had allowed a careless culture of noncompliance to fester. He bemoaned the lack of cooperation from the company but again had taken no action to address that.
In relation to verification of transport contracts, Mr Bute had no idea that some form of unsatisfactory arrangement with another operator had been entered into in order for Clarks to be operating more vehicles than authorised. In terms of safety procedures, there was no online checking of driver licences; any driver could have a piece of plastic, only online could its authenticity be verified. Mr Bute was, to all intents and purposes, TM in name only and it followed that his good repute was forfeit.