Clee Hill firm’s licence cut by a quarter

Operator told to contract in size ‘in the interests of road safety and fair competition’

Vehicle maintenance problems have led to the licence of Clee Hill-based Alan and Lorraine Radnor, trading as R&B Travel, being cut from 12 vehicles to nine by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Jones. 

In addition the TC held that Mr Radnor had lost his repute as a Transport Manager (TM), giving the firm six months to obtain a new TM.

The partners, of Knowle, Clee Hill, had been called before the TC at a Birmingham Public Inquiry (PI).The licence had been cut from 14 vehicles at a previous PI in May 2014.

Senior Vehicle Examiner (SVE) Richard Dixon said that Vehicle Examiner Lee Rees carried out a maintenance investigation in March following the issue of an 'S’ marked prohibition for the anchor point of a seatbelt being connected with cable ties. 

He examined three vehicles, issuing an ‘S’ marked immediate prohibition for a blowing exhaust that the driver had reported in February and on 17 occasions subsequently, plus a delayed prohibition and a defect notice.

Nineteen of the 46 PMI sheets didn’t have any tyre depth measurements. There was a driver defect reporting system in place but it was not being followed through. The firm had a prohibition rate of 71% over two years, compared with the national rate of 18%. 

There was an initial failure rate at annual test of 57.1%, and a final failure rate of 50%. The drivers’ walk round checks were being completed but defects were not being rectified. No quality controls were being carried out. He felt there had been no improvement since the last maintenance investigation in September 2013.

After the SVE said that Mr Radnor had said that people had let him down, the TC commented that that was down to management

The SVE said that a variation notice was issued to the vehicle given the prohibition for the seatbelt defect when it was produced for prohibition clearance. Two vehicles had since been given advisory notices. Last Friday a vehicle was given an immediate prohibition for a fuel leak at annual test. The vehicles had been the problem for some time.

After the SVE said that Mr Radnor had said that people had let him down, the TC commented that that was down to management. 

Mr Radnor said that the business had been in existence for 25 years. At the moment there was one qualified fitter and an assistant undertaking maintenance in-house. Pre-MoT preparation had been carried out by a third party since April, and major repairs were also contracted out.

The fitter had assured him that he had made a temporary repair to the exhaust with exhaust putty while awaiting a spare part. The fitter was given a written warning in May. They had concluded that he could not cope and that maintenance should not continue in-house.

He was going to have to be more of a disciplinarian. They had recently cancelled two contracts which would enable him to concentrate more on what he should be doing. His daughter Nicola Wilkins was booked on a CPC course in November. 

They had advertised for additional TM assistance without any response so far. Every driver now had a handbook and driver training had been arranged with the FTA in the summer holidays. For the future, the PMI inspections would be contracted out to a firm of mobile mechanics. All they would be doing in-house would be running repairs.

After Mr Radnor had said that he drove when needed, working 50-60 hours a week, and that he did not keep a written record of that, the TC pointed out that in that case he was not complying with the Working Time Directive.

Mrs Wilkins said that her dad had taken his eye off the ball.

The TC said that a much more professional grip on vehicle maintenance was required. He was aware that the firm operated in an area of the country where it was not easy to recruit. However the business needed to contract as it went through a period of transition, in the interests of road safety and fair competition.

Disqualifying Mr Radnor from acting as a TM until he passed a fresh CPC exam, the TC said that he did not feel that he had the skills to be a TM.