Kevin Rooney

Kevin Rooney

FORS – the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme – has contacted the Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the west of England, Kevin Rooney, to "seek clarification on comments that its audits had on occasion fallen short of a diligent, high-standard process".

"Remarks published in recent press reports suggest that a FORS member audit had been hastily carried out and not conducted on site," a statement said.

"FORS has requested further information to enable an investigation. Although the TC has acknowledged receipt of a request for clarification from FORS, a full response is yet to emerge."

The statement comes in response to Rooney's claims that FORS is "not fit for purpose" while a former auditor of the scheme has told that its audits "aren't worth the paper they're written on".

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Responding, FORS director, John Hix, said: “Comments appearing recently in the trade press simply do not reflect the true nature of how FORS audits are conducted. Any claims to the contrary are deeply concerning and we wish to follow up them up as a matter of urgency.”

“We would welcome the Traffic Commissioner’s attendance at a FORS audit so that he may see first-hand how the audit system operates and to appreciate the level of time and effort FORS auditors – and operators – put into the pursuit of best practice.”

The OFT has since submitted a full response to FORS' concerns: “Numerous FORS members and practitioners have attended a public inquiry over the years," Rooney said. "It is for FORS to have robust systems to objectively police its members, practitioners and auditors.

“We publish the names of all operators and individuals called to an upcoming public inquiry online, including the time and location of the hearing and any subsequent regulatory outcomes.

“Anyone is free to attend a public inquiry, including FORS managers. If they were to attend, they would see first-hand the experience of FORS members and FORS practitioners when operator licensing standards appear not to have been met."