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MiniPlus Article
January 09 2019
By Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell is the industry’s leading legal journalist, covering all key cases brought before Public Inquries, Tribunals, Magistrates and Crown Courts

Misuse of S19 permits leads to licence refusal

Dumfries-based Douglas Thomson and Barry Little, trading as Woodgrove Travel, who had operated unlawfully using Section 19 (S19) permits, have had their bid for a two-vehicle restricted licence turned down by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken.

The partners had requested a Public Inquiry after a proposal to refuse the application because of the unlawful operation and doubts that they met the main occupation rule.

Mr Thomson said his full-time occupation was as a taxi driver employed by Woodgrove Taxis, which was set up some 10 months before. 

He and Mr Little had two cars on the rank – one private hire car and also three eight-seaters for private hire.

They were applying for a taxi operator licence. The taxi driving was carried out by self-employed drivers. The money went to him and Mr Little as Woodgrove Travel in cash. Then they paid the self-employed drivers. Woodgrove Taxis did not have an office.

Woodgrove Travel was set up 17 months ago. It was not a charity. It provided transport for schools, community centres, sea cadets and for the community. It did not do school contracts in the sense of start and finish of the school day and had not done. 

They had five S19 permits and were using three for schools and groups. They did charge, but as low as possible, and they paid the drivers.

Mr Thomson agreed they had used the S19 permits for outings and had been unlawfully operating under the S19 permits. He admitted that they had built up an unlawful operation.

Asked if “Woodgrove Community Transport” had a constitution, a committee and its own bank account, he said that there was a bank account but no committee.

Mr Little wanted to help the groups and he funded it all.

The application to renew the permits to Dumfries and Galloway was an application without a view to profit. 

Asked if Woodgrove Community Transport had separate accounts, he said no, and when he was asked if it was part of Woodgrove Travel, the business, he said it was in the same depot.

Refusing the application, the TC said that it was very clear that Messrs Thomson and Little, whether as individuals or partners, went way beyond the purposes of S19 and created a transport operation.

They operated the minibuses for hire or reward, for commercial journeys beyond any community purpose.

They began to be excited and interested in transport as a business, drawing on their local contacts in the community. They began to operate taxis and trade as Woodgrove Taxis.

They operated eight-seater and 16-seater minibuses as Woodgrove Travel. The finances of Woodgrove Travel and Woodgrove Community Transport were not kept separate.

The TC could not find evidence of a principal occupation. The principal occupation of the partnership appeared to be transport and the minibus operation was part of that.

Further enquiries regarding the S19 permits would be made and further proceedings might be needed.

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