End of road for Woking-based bus firm boss

A WOKING coach operator responsible for transporting children to and from school has had his licence terminated and four business contracts torn up.

At a recent hearing, it was revealed that owner of Orange Coach Travel, David James Roots, based in the Tannery Industrial Estate in Send, had been ferrying passengers in vehicles without an MOT or insurance.

London and the South East traffic commissioner, Nicholas Denton, made an order to revoke Roots’ licence with effect from April 1, and reduce his operation from 11 to six vehicles until then.

The traffic commissioner told him he had lost his repute as a transport manager. Mr Denton also noted it was the operator’s fourth inquiry during the 12-year life of his licence, and his second in nine months.

Surrey County Council have terminated the company’s four contracts with schools in the area as the coaches have been deemed ‘unsafe’.

Mr Denton said: “Far from rushing to put his house in order after the June 2012 public inquiry, as a competent transport manager would have been expected to do, he failed to fulfill his undertakings and failed to inform me that he had not carried them out.”

In his report, Mr Denton said Roots had arrived at the hearing with an already tarnished record, both as owner of the business and as transport manager.

The Traffic Commissioner added that Roots had twice been suspended from operating in the past but that this did not seem to have ‘jolted him into the necessary action’ to run a compliant operation.

He added: “Only in the few days before the latest public inquiry, and in the few days since, has he grasped the urgency of his situation and put the maintenance in the hands of an outside contractor, arranged an audit and attended a driver’s CPC refresher course.

“He should have done all this shortly after the inquiry in June last year, not just before the inquiry last month. No one reading the independent audit report could conclude that this licence is in safe hands.”

The commissioner was also told that a vehicle operated by Roots had failed an MOT test three times before passing on the fourth, that promises made by him at previous inquiries had not been kept, that vehicles were operated with defective tachographs, and that defect reporting – where drivers identify maintenance issues before using vehicles – was not effective and the quality of checks were not monitored.

An independent audit was also severely critical of routine safety inspections carried out by Mr Roots on his vehicles.

Mr Denton added that a vehicle was used to transport schoolchildren without an MOT and that the expiry of the annual test meant the vehicle would not have been insured.

Under EU regulations, using a vehicle without a valid MOT is a serious infringement.

Roots is to be disqualified from working as a transport manager for any passenger businesses and restricted from those duties for 12 months.

Roots is authorised to operate from Martlands Industrial Estate, Mayford, until April 1, when his licence will be revoked.

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