Community Bus Operator Gets Driving Ban For Poor Vehicle Maintenance
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.