AV: four months to consolidate
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• South Eastern Traffic Commissioner Brigadier Michael Turner has banned bus operator Alder Valley from registering any further local services for four months because of maintenance problems. The duration of the company's licence and the licence of sister firm The Berks Bucks Co have also been cut by three months.
Giving evidence of prohibitions imposed on Berks Bucks vehicles, Ronald Dixon, the DTp Vehicle Inspectorate's Yeading district manager, said that in particular maintenance was unsatisfactory at the former Whites Coaches depot at Baughurst. Maintenance was also unsatisfactory at the High Wycombe depot.
Vehicle examiner Michael Culver said that Alder Valley's problem depot was Hindhead. Of four vehicles inspected in May, three received immediate prohibitions, and a recent inspection resulted in three delayed prohibitions.
Len Wright, managing director of both companies, said that Berks Bucks was acquired by Q Drive, a company he had set up with David and Lynn Stewart. They only had security of tenure at the Maidenhead depot until September 1988. A new depot in Maidenhead was acquired, but it did not become fully operational until February. The transfer of staff and vehicles to other depots in the interim caused considerable disruption.
In March there was an arson attack on the Newbury depot, which led to the total destruction of the workshop and the loss of 23 vehicles. Temporary premises were obtained, and a new purpose-built depot had since been built. However, it was not fully usable until July. The Baughurst operation was being closed down.
In November 1988 Q Drive acquired Alder Valley (South), and a new company, Alder Valley Ltd, was formed. The previous owners had hived off the engineering function into a separate company. That had resulted in low morale among the engineering staff. The engineering function had now been brought back into the operating company.
Chief engineer David James said a computerised maintenance control system was being formed, and a new type of inspection form had been introduced. An operations engineer had been appointed for Berks Bucks and a similar post for Alder Valley was being advertised.
Turner said that Alder Valley's problem was really one depot. Preventing them from registering further services for four months would give the company an opportunity of consolidating.