James Thomas Flynn, trading as Happy Days Minibus Hire Falkirk (Coaches), has succeeded in obtaining a new national licence for two vehicles based at Grangemouth following the revocation of his previous licence for Transport Manager (TM) problems.
However, in granting the licence, Traffic Commissioner (TC) Richard Turfitt warned Mr Flynn and his proposed TM Rodney Campbell that there can be no excuse for non-compliance going forward.
The licence was granted with a condition for a finance review within six months, where the up-to-date three month average must meet the prescribed sum, and an undertaking for roller brake testing of the vehicles at every preventative maintenance inspection.
Following a Public Inquiry (PI) in 2019, the then TM Robert Fraser resigned in August 2020. A period of grace of four months was granted to rectify the absence of a TM. Mr Flynn was granted an extension after he failed to gain a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) himself. He then nominated James Reilly, but there were issues with obtaining information about how the statutory duty would be met. Mr Flynn was therefore called to a further PI in June 2021 before TC Claire Gilmore. Applications to appoint Mr Reilly and Mr Campbell as replacement TMs were refused. Mr Reilly and Mr Campbell failed to attend the hearing.
The licence was revoked as Mr Flynn had been without professional competence since August 2020. There was a lack of urgency to address that, and there had been limited contact between the operator and Mr Reilly. Mr Flynn then attempted to appeal against that decision to the Upper Tribunal but that was eventually struck out as being misguided by the Upper Tribunal on 18 August 2021. Mr Reilly lost his appeal against his indefinite disqualification from acting as a TM. Evidence was given that both Mr Campbell and Mr Flynn had attended O-Licence Awareness Training and Mr Flynn indicated the intention to join the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
In his decision, the TC said that Mr Flynn was candid about his motives in seeking to pursue a hopeless appeal, where he failed to disclose that he had not even met the CPC holder who was nominated to act. He was not impressed to find that at the date of the previous PI, Mr Campbell had yet to meet Mr Flynn and then only established contact with him two days after the hearing. That fact did not appear to have been disclosed to the
TC or the Upper Tribunal.
It had been made very clear to Mr Campbell, as it should be to all responsible holders of a CPC, that he should not have allowed his name to be used in that way and without having first met with and assessed the applicant/ operator. There appeared to be insufficient capacity to comply with the requirements of an O-Licence at the originally proposed operating centre in Larbert, including walk-round checks, which did not speak well of either Mr Flynn or Mr Campbell. It was indicative of the lack of involvement that Mr Campbell had in the production of systems, over which he was proposed to have effective management.
There was a lesson here for all applicants and CPC holders to guard against the risks of allowing third parties to assume the responsibility for pursuing an application and allowing their name to be attached to an application, where they had not even met the applicant/operator. It was the appearance before the TC at the previous PI, and now in pursuit of the present application, which appeared to have provided the real instruction.
That, and the attendance at training courses, meant that there could be no excuse for noncompliance going forward.