Community Bus Operator Gets Driving Ban For Poor Vehicle Maintenance

A former community bus

A former community bus

The operator of the St Mary’s Community Bus has been disqualified from driving for not maintaining his vehicle in a roadworthy condition. Police say they took this exceptional action because of the risk to the public and the unique situation of the islands.

Bodmin Traffic Court has banned Steve Sims from driving for six months. He was also ordered to pay a total of £645 in fines and fees during his court appearance on Wednesday.

Devon and Cornwall Police say his minibus was first inspected on 8th May last year when mainland traffic officers visiting St Mary’s found a number of defects with the vehicle.

They left him a list of faults that needed rectifying. But when they checked again on the 12th March this year, the work hadn’t been done.

The police say that Mr Sims’ bus was in such a dangerous condition that it was immediately prohibited and was shipped off the islands the next day.

He was subsequently summonsed to court for a number of offences including defects to the steering, brakes, body work, electrical system and windscreen wipers. There were also sharp edges and protrusions and a faulty emergency door.

Prosecutors said that the vehicle involved a danger of injury to any person using it.

Mr Sims pleaded guilty to all the offences.

The police say this case is unique to Scilly because on the mainland any public service vehicle operator would be licenced by the area Traffic Commissioner.

The Commissioner has the power to revoke licences, meaning an offender wouldn’t be able to drive or operate a public service vehicle again.

But Scilly doesn’t fall under this legislation so they had to take a different legal approach via the Traffic Court.

The police say 99% of people on the islands do their best to rectify faults with their vehicle if they’re asked.

But they said this is a warning of what happens if these notices are ignored.

Steve told Radio Scilly that the situation arose because he was unable to get repair work done on the islands.

He said the police gave his bus “a full mainland inspection,” which to his knowledge has never been done before here, and he says they “inevitably found a range of faults, some of which had not been an issue in previous inspections, despite being unchanged.”

He said he was unaware of most of the issues that the inspectors picked up and as far as he could tell, the bus was performing well and there was no issue with either steering or braking.

He stressed he would not have driven the bus if he considered it to be unsafe.

Steve says he has only had one accident on the bus in 15 years, which wasn’t his fault.

Mr Sims says his prosecution doesn’t affect his position as a Council member. He has the second most senior role, as Vice Chairman, and he’s also Chairman of the Finance, Audit and Scrutiny Committee, which monitors the standards of councillors.

He hopes that the Community Bus service will continue if he can make arrangements to get cover.



35 Responses to Community Bus Operator Gets Driving Ban For Poor Vehicle Maintenance

  1. Adrian J,G. Davis September 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

    FYI Linguine I have the 7 Principles up on my wall in front of me and I would also like to point you to the Annual Meeting elections last May –we may not have won that battle but we are still ‘in there’ and Rome was not built in a day.
    (BTW Adrin is better than my friend who calls me A drain.!).

    • Linguine September 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Adrian,
      please believe me when I say that I wish you every success.
      My greatest worry is that time is of the essence and it cannot be too long before the ineptitude that the council and its slipshod leaders exhibit delivers lasting damage to the reputation of the authority and our islands.

  2. Mark Prebble August 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    E Wart
    Please check the time line on the comments.

  3. mainland visitor August 31, 2015 at 10:06 am

    No need to look it up – here it is from the Oxford

    A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common

    From the tone of the comments, the ”’ particular characteristic ” part is rather apt..

  4. A member of the collective. August 31, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Please consult either a dictionary or a linguist for definitions of community.

  5. Adrin J,G. Davis August 30, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Please note that the ‘ADRIAN’ who commented at 11.13 was not me!!

    Councillor Adrian Davis

    • Linguine September 1, 2015 at 12:15 am

      Never thought it was, your name is spelled differently Adrin.
      Now what about checking out the Nolan report on standards in public life and doing something about the embarrassment that is the current front bench?

  6. Adam August 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the bus service operates as a ‘Community Bus’, it’s advertised as such on the Visit Isles of Scilly website. Surely it’s the local Council who should maintain the bus and ensure it’s kept in a safe condition.

    • Leslie Welch August 30, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Let me be the first to say, “wrong again Adam”.

      • Adam August 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm

        Why?

        • flipping heck August 30, 2015 at 9:31 pm

          Because putting the word community in front of another word doesn’t automatically make it part of a council remit! Think centre, service, hospital, college even shield!

        • Leslie Welch August 30, 2015 at 10:04 pm

          It isn’t run or subsidised by the council the operator can call his bus service whatever he likes.

        • Madame Cholet August 30, 2015 at 11:43 pm

          The bus is neither owned nor operated by the Council, that is why.

          • Leslie Welch August 31, 2015 at 1:00 pm

            I was still first! Could I have a prize from the Community Chest?

  7. Adrian August 30, 2015 at 11:13 am

    On the occasions that I have used the Scilly Bus Service I have found this person rude and not customer friendly. To discover he is also a councillor that has flouted rules regarding safety speaks volumes… hang your head in shame sir, methinks (he should also not be allowed to represent the good people of Scilly in my opinion).
    He has shown very little regard to the many that regularly visit the islands and should not be allowed to run such an essential service ever again. It would be a travesty, where someone has so flagrantly abused their position, to renew their licence… you only have to look at what recently happened in Scotland (where a driver bucked the system to have a licence – with fatal consequences as a result) to know the seriousness of this matter.

  8. Stephen Smith August 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I think Steve was lucky and actually got off pretty lightly.

    He was very lucky that the bus did not fail as a result of the faults that had been identified by the qualified vehicle inspector. The risks had been identified as very real, and one wonders whether his insurance would have been valid in the event of an incident, knowing that faults had been identified and rectification had been wilfully neglected. (I am actually very surprised that an insurance company would be willing to underwrite a knowingly faulty bus, which provided a paid service in an environment with little or no independent safety testing.)

    Nothing happened and for that we are grateful.

    It also appears that if this had happened on the mainland, he would have lost his business and not just his license for six months. That most of those six months will be during the winter when he would not be driving the bus anyway is also very fortunate for him. All he needs for the remainder of the season is a relief driver and he’s back in business.

    Thanks to the intervention of the authorities we now have a positive outcome: Safe bus in service.

    Sadly, the ‘shame’ is that it took prohibition action by the police, to force the bus to be removed to the mainland and subsequently repaired. Neglecting to take the necessary actions to get the faults repaired for 10 months implies that Steve was not intending to get the vehicle fixed ready for the 2015 season.

    And it is this disregard for the law and safety which reflects poorly, and calls into question Steve’s eligibility to be a councillor, and this is why, like others, I would regrettably expect him to resign. He has pleaded guilty to what is presumably a criminal act. The local authority has a clear code of conduct for members, people who are Public figures, and these are based on the Nolan principles of public life.

    Amongst them is “the duty to uphold the law – members should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in them.”

    At the very least there should be a standards enquiry, unless of course, Steve does choose to fall upon his sword.

  9. Edward August 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

    This is just being used as an excuse to take a pop at Steve Sims, in reality Its just another example of health and safety creeping in from the mainland, everyone harks on about the lovely old bus that was falling apart and Vic who in later life was almost blind and admitted to using the scratching sounds from the overgrown hedgerows as a guide to how close he was to the curb, quaint and lovely but you would say dark and dangerous.

    • Chargepayer August 30, 2015 at 12:38 am

      I am sure that sometimes it is justifiable to criticise the “establishment” for being overbearing but not in this case.
      The Community Bus and its owner have been the subject of very many safety inspections in the past and for very good reason. There has to be an acceptance that when the safety of both passengers and pedestrians are at stake the effectiveness of the brakes and steering of a large heavy vehicle which is often driven quite fast should not be compromised.
      Sadly what now needs to be questioned is the logic and judgement of someone who has repeatedly failed to learn from the many warnings that have been given over several years.
      The police would have been pilloried had the bus gone on to cause an avoidable accident when it should not have been in service and the history of their dealings with the Community Bus came to light.
      The question about the vice chairman of council remaining on the council is something else that falls to his judgement. Regrettably it is plain that in all conscience his position is untenable.

    • Ewart August 30, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Vic always had problems with seeing where was going, but everyone knew that and made allowances,this was back in the 1960,s. Vic was a character loved by visitors and many Islanders,He with Ron Perry ran the local garage for many years,his vehicles were old, but well maintained,by Island standards!!!
      I do not think anyone is taking a pop at Mr.Sims, he did not take notice of the Police notice to carry out the necessary repairs, and as a result suffered the consequence.
      I am not certain he should go so far as resigning from the Council, but he should resign
      from his position as Vice Chairman.

  10. Mark Prebble August 29, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Honestly … An identifiable name and an articulate reasoning for you suggestion please

    • Ewart August 31, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Mr. Prebble,
      My name should be identifiable, as it is shown on my birth certificate, and is probably recognized by some of the old Scillonian families.
      Reason for my suggestion is quite simple. a person cannot be disbarred from a Council if that person and i quote ” Convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to not less than 3 months imprisonment (including any suspended sentence) within the past 5 years”
      Clearly this does not apply to Mr.Sims,in my view, it would be prudent of him to stand down from the Vice-Chairmanship because it as an executive position,and in his actions
      or lack of action over his bus does not inspire leadership.
      I trust this clarifies the reasons for my comments.

  11. Smith August 28, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Agree with Jonny resignation is a must do the decent thing Steve

  12. mainland visitor. August 28, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    The first driver to reverse into the street furniture was Steve Sims in the community bus. He described the post he hit as being “stuck out like a lighthouse” and threatened to “unleash termites” on them

    Quote – Steve says he has only had one accident on the bus in 15 years, which wasn’t his fault.

    Just to clarify, Is this the accident Mr Sims was referring too please ?

  13. Jane Wilson August 28, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    This amazes us. We have just returned from Scilly, using the bus as usual on our visit. We both remarked that the bus was much better than the previous one,no creaking, better performance and the driver was so polite.

    • Chargepayer August 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Jane,
      Steve is an amiable, amicable, intelligent and funny man; the very important question that needs to be considered relates to his common sense and judgement, both of which have been shown to be seriously and frankly dangerously defective.
      His conviction is incompatible with his continuation in office.

  14. Suncream August 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    As I understand it, the bus is now roadworthy, having been given a full service when it was sent to the mainland in March. It is a great shame that Steve has lost his licence for six months. Islanders and visitors are now left without a bus service. This is not a good outcome.

    • Jane Wilson August 29, 2015 at 10:15 am

      The island is going to be a very difficult, expensive, probably boring place to live for the infirm until the bus operates again. We are always aware what a great service it is to people who live outside of Hugh Town. People who need to visit the Health a Centre or the Co-op will have to use the taxis, which although efficient, are much more costly. Coming into Winter, this is not the time to have no public transport.
      Thanks for the comment on the previous bus driver being almost blind and using hedges to guide him. At the time, we just believed he kept to the far left, to leave room for other traffic.

      • Snake Pliskin August 31, 2015 at 8:07 am

        You have Buzza Bus

        • Jane August 31, 2015 at 10:14 am

          What is Buzza Bus, please?

          • Snake Pliskin September 1, 2015 at 8:18 am

            Buzza bus is a bus arranged to assist people who are unable to ma\ke their own way around the islands. at a price of £1.50 per person.

  15. Darren August 28, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    ”He stressed he would not have driven the bus if he considered it to be unsafe”

    Unless you are from another planet then I would suggest that….

    ” including defects to the steering, brakes, body work, electrical system and windscreen wipers. There were also sharp edges and protrusions and a faulty emergency door.”

    ….would be an absolute death trap. Defects to the steering and brakes, you are lucky that you didn’t kill a child, and a ban is getting off lightly.

  16. Jonny Exile August 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Resignation from the Council please.