East of England Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, has called on standard licence holders to make sure they can demonstrate a ‘genuine link’ with their Transport Managers (TM). It comes after ruling that he had been misled about the nomination of a TM by a Winwick based coach firm. Veazey Coaches Ltd told the industry regulator that it was nominating Melanie Virgo as replacement Transport Manager in 2015. However, it subsequently emerged that Miss Virgo was only performing the role as a favour to the company. Upper Tribunal appeal judges ruled in 2015 that a transport manager cannot be a volunteer because a volunteer cannot establish the necessary genuine link to the operator.
Under Article 4 of the Regulation (EC) 1071/2009, a transport manager needs to have a genuine link to the undertaking, such as being an employee, director, owner or shareholder or administering it, or, if the undertaking is a natural person (rather than a legal person, which may be a private or public organisation), that it is that person. As part of the TM1 transport manager nomination form, TMs are required to confirm that they either have a genuine link to the applicant or licence holder (as an internal TM) or a contract with the applicant or licence holder specifying the tasks they must perform as TM (as an external TM). Where an individual does not meet the above criteria, traffic commissioners can authorise a transport manager who is entitled under contract to carry out duties as a transport manager on behalf of the undertaking.
Miss Virgo indicated that she was an external transport manager on the TM1 form submitted at the time of her nomination and signed the declaration confirming she had a contract with the licence holder. The public inquiry into Veazey Coaches Ltd was triggered by a DVSA investigation in 2016. It appeared to the vehicle examiner that there was no effective management control of the operation by the transport manager. Melanie Virgo admitted she had not been exercising continuous and effective management. Mr Turfitt found that this had contributed to the shortcomings identified by DVSA last year and the issue of prohibitions. The offer of surrender of the licence immediately prior to the Public Inquiry was considered to be too little and too late. Both the operator and Miss Virgo did not attend the inquiry on 28 March 2017.
Mr Turfitt concluded that the operator was not capable of meeting future compliance and must be removed from the industry. He ruled that the company had lost its repute and revoked the licence with immediate effect. The Traffic Commissioner also determined that Miss Virgo’s repute had been severely tarnished and that she was not to be accepted on any other operator’s licence without referral to a Traffic Commissioner.