Beverley Bell microlise

Senior traffic commissioner (TC) Beverley Bell told delegates at the Microlise Conference in Coventry this week she had no regrets about dealing robustly with the “various villains” she had encountered in her 17 years as a TC.

Speaking at her last public engagement before she steps down and hands the senior TC role to Richard Turfitt from 1 June, Bell who became TC for the North West in 2000, said: “The British public expect their regulators to be robust. And if we can’t be, who’s going to be?

“So I make no apologies to all those dodgy, difficult, nasty, dishonest operators that I’ve put out of business.”

Bell said the institution’s current focus, enshrined in its strategic objectives, was to deliver a much better service for the British transport industry than TCs have been able to provide in the past.

“We are asking the DVSA and TCs to work together to concentrate on the serially and seriously non-compliant.

“When I appeared before the Transport select committee I spoke about the DVSA targeting that soft underbelly of small operators that are easy to target,” she said, adding that most of them are fine.

“It’s some of the larger organisations that don’t get things right. Often it’s down to the directors because they think ‘oh, it’s fine’.

“We look forward to working with the DVSA as it starts to target, much more than it has in the past, the serially and seriously non-compliant,” Bell said.

She added that when she first become a TC the wait for a compliant operator to get an O-licence was nine weeks, something that hasn’t changed 17 years on. She suggested you get what you pay for.

“You know how much an O-licence application is,” she told delegates. “It is about threepence-halfpenny in old money, and it means the TCs have been for a number of years under resourced.

“We meet as commissioners with the industry and we know that you would happily pay a little bit more for a better service,” she said.

Bell also called for the legislation underpinning the O-licence system to be updated as much of its dates from the 1980s and 1990s. “You only have to watch Ashes to Ashes to see how much life has changed since then,” she said.