Turfitt: Solid advice

When a Traffic Commissioner elects to speak in public it makes good sense to sit up and listen and this was definitely the case last week when Richard Turfitt addressed a regional meeting organised by Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Regional Manager Karen Tiley in Stowmarket.

Mr Turfitt, Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Traffic Area, had accepted an invitation from CPT Regional Chairman David Cattermole, MD of Galloway European Travel. The 60 operators present were brought up-to-date on the latest developments, while solid advice on how to steer clear of an appearance at a Public Inquiry (PI) was a recurring theme.

In particular Mr Turfitt had strong words for Transport Managers (TMs). He said: “I’ve found a real problem with TMs not demonstrating much common sense at PI.

“There’s been far too many times when I’ve thought this PI could have been avoided by the TM asking: ‘Why haven’t we used the information available?’

There was no denying Mr Turfitt’s blunt message that emphasised the requirements now placed on TMs to be up to date while undertaking their statutory duty to “effectively and continuously manage” the transport operation. He said: “TMs must be of good repute and be professionally competent. And, don’t forget, since 4 December 2011 I can declare a TM unfit.

“Auditing paperwork is not all that is required.”

He gave further emphasis to the TM’s role when he said: “When I say they are important, I mean it.”

Yet, there’s help on the way for any TM who is still not clear what is required of the position. “This is what we’re trying to do with the re-worked statutory document,” said Mr Turfitt.

Meanwhile, he reminded his audience of the importance of keeping accurate and up-to-date maintenance records. “Lawyers can’t conjure-up documents for their clients,” he said, adding that driving without an MoT and/or with a serious defect was among the list of serious infringements that would automatically lead to a PI.

He also warned of the perils of employing a driver without a Driver CPC and advised operators to check driving licences “at least three times a year, though my starting point would be four times.

“I offer this advice so that I don’t see you at PI.”

As a parting shot, Mr Turfitt asked for help from operators with a review of the effectiveness of the TCs currently being undertaken by the Department for Transport.

Opinions are wanted before the end of January 2015 and some of the topics included in the consultation include: operator licencing, the future of licence discs, a single national traffic area for larger operators, and local input on local bus registrations.