‘Ashamed and embarrassed’ - Inquiry hears how transport manager missed basic maintenance checks

The public inquiry was held at the office of the traffic commissioner in Cambridge. Picture: Google

The public inquiry was held at the office of the traffic commissioner in Cambridge. Picture: Google Images - Credit: Archant

A former transport manager said he was “ashamed, embarrassed and frustrated” after vehicles at a private hire company missed out on basic maintenance checks.

Kessingland Kabs Ltd in Lowestoft, and the firm’s former transport manager Stephen Paul Fisher, were found to have breached regulations by a government official at a public inquiry.

They were called by the East of England Traffic Commissioner to appear at an inquiry in Cambridge in July “to consider whether there were grounds to intervene” in respect of the firm’s licence.

It was attended by Kessingland Kabs Ltd director, Michael Sutton, but Mr Fisher did not attend after resigning in June.

At the time of the hearing, Kessingland Kabs Ltd held a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence authorising five vehicles – meaning those vehicles were available for private hire.

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The inquiry heard that in July 2019, one of the vehicles was issued with an immediate prohibition notice for “suspension holding down bolts/nuts, insecure. Axle moving relative to suspension unit.”

A subsequent vehicle inspection by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) was carried out in December 2019.

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It heard: “In the course of the investigation the vehicle inspection records, preventative maintenance systems and maintenance arrangements were checked and the inspector was not satisfied with the results and marked the outcome as unsatisfactory.”

Maintenance inspection reports were assessed and the inspector found many had defects listed that were “not shown as rectified”.

Reports had not been signed and dated to declare vehicles to be in a safe and roadworthy condition on many occasions, according to the report.

Mr Fisher said in a letter to the inquiry “he could give no reasonable excuse or explanation” for the findings.

A report into the inquiry stated: “He also referred to being ashamed, embarrassed and frustrated. He should be.

“He has apparently reflected on the shortcomings set out in the Public Inquiry documents and concluded that it was only appropriate for him to step down.

“He also informed me that he no longer intends to take any role within the transport industry following this experience.”

The commissioner for the East of England suspended the operator licence for Kessingland Kabs limited.

Speaking about the findings, Michael Sutton, director of Kessingland Kabs Ltd, said: “We noted the errors that the traffic commissioner had pointed out, and have since came to the decision to surrender our license on August 14, 2020 until a time we feel that we can be fully compliant considering these uncertain times in the world.”

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