Director and Transport Manager of the now defunct Nippy Bus, Sydney Philip Hardy – who fired his staff overnight and closed the company – has been disqualified by the Traffic Commissioner for the West of England, Kevin Rooney.
Mr Hardy has lost his good repute as transport manager and as an operator. He is also disqualified from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence or being involved in the management, administration or control of the transport operations of an entity holding one of these licenses.
The Somerset-based operator of 30 vehicles closed his business with no notice on 29 October. Mr Hardy sent a message to staff to dismiss them, saying: “There comes a time in any relationship when you just have to say ‘F*** it’, say goodbye and move on. This is my time! I am quitting to pursue my dream of not having to work here.”
A letter of explanation, dated 25 October 2017 but received by the Traffic Commissioner on 31 October, points to issues such as driver shortages and the difficulties of operating buses in a rural environment. Mr Hardy had notified his staff of the closure of the business via an internal memo, which featured the closing statement: “I have had enough and realise I cannot work with you, the people I employ, a moment longer.”
In a statement concerning his decision to disqualify Mr Hardy, Kevin Rooney said: “Nippy Bus Ltd held a PSV operator’s licence. It is worth spelling that out – it is a Public Service Vehicle’s operator’s licence. The holders of such licences are authorised to, in simple terms, earn a living and make a profit from providing a public service. But with that authority and opportunity comes responsibility and duty, most importantly a duty to the members of the community who come to rely on the service to get to work or to school, to social events or to attend medical appointments.
“Nineteen prohibition notices have been issued to the operator’s vehicles in the past five years. In October last year, vehicle YO53ZNG was issued a prohibition for a door not operating correctly. When presented to DVSA to have the prohibition removed, it received another prohibition for a missing brake pad securing pin on the front axle. Presented again later that same day, it was prohibited again for the replacement pin being too small such that it was going to fall out. Mr Hardy may have an explanation for all that, but he has chosen not to provide it.
“There is no doubt that spending pressures from central and local government make operating rural bus services a challenge. Mr Hardy was perfectly entitled to bring his operation to an end. But he needed to do so in a way which allowed an opportunity for those services to be replaced or, at the very least, for his patrons to make alternative arrangements.
“In closing his business as he did, Mr Hardy showed utter contempt, not just for his staff who were laid off with no notice, but also for the community which he served. Mr Hardy says he is leaving the PSV industry. It is right that he does so. It may be that my decision now has no effect on him and his future plans but in making it, I hope it may persuade other operators in a similar situation to manage any closure in a better way.”