Ashington-based Stephen Tatum, trading as S&A Travel, has been given six months to show that he continues to meet the required financial standing for his four-vehicle national licence by Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Gillian Ekins.
Mr Tatum, who provides specialised transport for the county council, had been called before the DTC at a Leeds Public Inquiry (PI) after failing to fulfil undertakings to produce the necessary financial evidence by specified dates.
The DTC said that the licence was granted following a PI in September 2016 to replace a licence previously held by a partnership.
Mr Tatum was required by an undertaking given when the licence was granted to demonstrate financial standing by 31 January 2017, which he failed to do.
The Traffic Area Office chased for the information to be produced and there was a proposal to revoke the licence. However, Mr Tatum was allowed to continue operating after voluntarily reducing the licence authorisation from five vehicles with a further undertaking to produce evidence of continuing financial standing.
In March 2018 he produced evidence of a statutory declaration from another party but that was not acceptable at that stage as statutory declarations were only accepted when a licence was first granted. The matter was to be considered at a PI at the end of November, but Mr Tatum was granted a period of grace after briefing a solicitor.
After hearing financial evidence, the DTC said that she was satisfied by a very narrow margin that Mr Tatum at that moment met the required financial standing. However, she was not satisfied he could continue to meet it.
It was not acceptable for someone who had a licence granted in 2016 to still not have demonstrated financial standing for a considerable period of time. Mr Tatum had been unable to explain why he had failed to meet the undertaking given when the licence was granted. A pool of money was needed for vehicle maintenance and it was not acceptable to use vehicles to generate finance.
She was disappointed that Mr Tatum had not come with a financial plan going forward and she remained to be satisfied that he had a viable business. However, she was giving him a further opportunity to carry on with an undertaking to demonstrate financial standing in six months’ time.
“No quarter would be given” if he failed at that stage. The fact that it was more than two years since he failed to meet the first undertaking was not acceptable. This was his last opportunity to demonstrate he had a viable financial business.
Because she had some concerns over the vehicle maintenance systems, she required an undertaking that an audit of all the vehicle maintenance, drivers’ hours and tachograph systems be carried out by an independent body, also in six months’ time.