Public inquiry date scheduled for coach firm

Howard Snaith buses.
Howard Snaith buses.

A coach operator, whose staff were at the centre of a lengthy crown-court trial over false tachograph records, is facing a public inquiry next month.

The two-day tribunal in Leeds, which relates to Otterburn-based company Howard Snaith, is scheduled to start on Tuesday, December 1.

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner for the North of England has set up the inquiry to consider action under three headings against Howard James Snaith and Partners, trading as HJ Snaith and Partners, Snaith Ltd, and Howard James Snaith, of Coach House, Otterburn.

Disciplinary action is being considered under Section 17 (The Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981) and Section 28 (The Transport Act 1985) and further consideration is scheduled over the matter of the transport manager’s repute under Schedule 3 (The Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981).

The commissioner will hear evidence from the operator, transport manager and the DVSA examiner(s) before deciding whether, on the balance of probabilities, regulatory action should be taken against the operator’s licence and/or transport manager.

In terms of regulatory action, he can reduce the number of vehicles on a licence or suspend or revoke a licence. He can also disqualify a licence holder or individuals named on a licence.

Earlier this year, company director Alison Snaith pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice, while a number of drivers admitted offences of creating false tachograph records.

Following the convictions, Northumberland County Council decided to terminate all of its contracts with Howard Snaith for the provision of home to school transport and supported public bus services.