Rogue bus bosses jailed

by

David Ellis (left) and Vincenzo Casale, photo Manchester Evening News

(click for original article)

Vincenzo Casale, former managing director of Manchester based GM Buses and the jointly operated UK North, and his former transport chief David Ellis, have both been jailed for 15 months. Casale, was also banned from being a company director for 10 years while Ellis, received the same ban for five years. The pair lied about the hours their drivers worked to an investigation following a fatal accident, and both admitted a charge of conspiracy to defraud the Traffic Commissioner by giving false evidence.

The two former bus company directors had hired 100 Poles to drive double deckers, even though many did not speak English. The pair then exploited the men by making them work for up to 31 days without a break. Under UK regulations drivers should take a minimum of 24 hours rest in any two-week period. Their management style led to 34 prosecution notices being issued by the police. One bus was driven the wrong way up a one-way street and another had its roof ripped off because the driver did not recognise warning signs.

Finally, a 27-year-old sign writer, Martin Pilling, who had been erecting neon signs on a building, was killed when one of their buses hit the hydraulic lift he was working from in December 2006. Following the fatal crash in November 2006, police arrested the Polish driver of the bus, Krzysztof Ociepa, who worked for an agency, UK North Enterprises Ltd. It emerged that Mr Ociepa had been working for 19 consecutive days – six over the legal limit. He was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but the case was dismissed by a judge. Sadly, the more populist English press headlined their articles (see below) as if it was the driver who was to blame.

At a public inquiry held by the Traffic Commissioner in December 2006, the directors produced false duty rosters in an attempt to discredit the findings and to deceive the Commissioner into thinking drivers had been sticking to regulations. Sgt Alan Johnson, of Greater Manchester Police’s traffic section, said: “This investigation has highlighted the unscrupulous working practices of these directors. They had a total disregard for working conditions.” 27 of their 130 drivers had been in breach of their compulsory fortnightly rest. The worst case saw a driver working a total of 31 days without a rest. Inspection of the bus fleet resulted in 16 out of 28 buses were declared unroadworthy. The investigation also revealed that many of the drivers had not been properly trained.

One wonders why, in spite of the earlier incidents and the 34 prosecution notices issued by the police, it took the death of an innocent third party before the Traffic Commissioner took action. It is unthinkable that similar breaches in safety regulations on the railways would have been tolerated for so long. Perhaps it’s time to tighten up the regulation of Britain’s bus services?

Sources:

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2 Responses to “Rogue bus bosses jailed”

  1. Brian Souter Says:

    This kind of thing never went on under my watch.

  2. dyspozytor Says:

    Honoured and delighted as we are to receive a comment from ‘Brian Souter’, we could not help but notice that the Internet domain that he provides on his e-mail address belongs to a drama training programme aimed at young people. The Brian Souter whose career we follow with bated breath runs one of the most interesting public transport companies in the UK.

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