Eastwood school bus company rapped over misuse of licence

A SCHOOL minibus company boss who used his brother’s operator’s licence to run an extra bus has narrowly avoiding being stripped of his own licence.

The regional traffic commissioner ordered that Aijaz Ahmed, who runs Advanced Travel in Eastwood, have his ten-vehicle licence revoked over the regulation breach and rejected his application to run up to 20 vehicles.

North Eastern Traffic Commissioner Tim Blackmore said it was “extremely serious” to use another operator’s licence and “fundamentally dishonest”.

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He disqualified Ahmed from acting as a transport manager until he had passed a fresh CPC (certificate Of professional competence) examination.

But he postponed the revocation of his licence until next February, saying he “might be prepared to consider” an application for a fresh licence for up to 15.

Department for Transport records show Ahmed, of Clifton Bank, Rotherham, has already applied for a new licence.

A hearing in Leeds was told up to 90 per cent of Advance Travel’s work was for schools, including Rotherham Council’s Home to School service.

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Ahmed’s appearance before Mr Blackmore stemmed from an incident last March where a school bus stopped for a random check was found to be displaying a licence disc registered under the name of his brother, Imtayaz Malik.

The hearing was told the bus was being driven by one of Ahmed’s drivers and had the livery of Advanced Travel.

Ahmed said that he had gifted the vehicle to his brother but there was no evidence to support this claim.

He agreed that he could not prove the vehicle had been transferred to Malik, who had moved abroad a couple of years ago and did not attend the commissioner’s hearing.

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Ahmed said he had assumed his brother had put the vehicle on his licence but accepted that the vehicle had not been given a first use inspection to see that it was roadworthy before going onto the road.

The commissioner said Ahmed — who applied for an increase in licence authority immediately after the March incident — had said he had been short of vehicles and had asked his brother whether he could borrow the vehicle. 

But when interviewed by an enforcement officer, Ahmed had said he was short of discs.

Questioned by Mr Blackmore, Ahmed said that he had spare vehicles he could have used that day, with 18 vehicles in possession.  

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He subcontracted work to three other operators, who used their own vehicles and staff, he said.

Ahmed said he had honestly believed he had not been doing anything wrong but had since realised it had been inappropriate and it should not have happened.  

Despite the ruling against him, Ahmed’s firm can continue operating as his licence remains in place pending a new hearing in February, when his application for a 15-vehicle licence will be considered.

Mr Blackmore ordered an independent audit of Advance Travel’s vehicle maintenance systems and the continued assistance of a transport consultant as Ahmed’s son had only just obtained his transport manager’s qualification.

Malik’s two-vehicle operator’s licence was revoked.

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Rotherham Council’s assistant director for community safety and street scene, Tom Smith, said the authority had undertaken a full audit of Advanced Travel “to satisfy themselves the services currently being delivered to the council comply with the company’s operator Licence and contractual agreements”.

He added: “If Advanced Travel is not issued with an operator licence in the future, they will not be used by the council.

“The council takes the safeguarding of children very seriously and actively monitors all operators who deliver its Home to School Transport services. 

“At no time was the safeguarding of children put at risk.”

Advanced Travel did not respond to a request for comment.