Boris’s election campaign battle bus failed EU safety rules

Boris Johnson used a bus last year in his campaign to be re-elected as Mayor of London that did not comply with European Union safety laws, according to a ruling handed down by the Traffic Commissioner.

Taking everyone for a ride: Boris Johnson and the campaign battle bus donated by Olympic South that the Traffic Commissioner said did not meet EU regulations

Taking everyone for a ride: Boris Johnson and the campaign battle bus donated by Olympic South that the Traffic Commissioner said did not meet EU regulations

Nicholas Denton made the ruling at a hearing held at Eastbourne into the business practices of Olympic South, the company which had been controversially awarded, and later stripped of a large proportion of multi-million pound council contracts to transport Croydon children to school.

Denton, the commissioner for the south-eastern and Metropolitan area, accused Olympic South of operating its licence “in a slapdash fashion”. Olympic South was found to have breached sections of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 and Transport Act 1985. As first reported by Inside Croydon, the commissioner stripped Olympic South of licences to operate 60 of its 100 public service vehicles.

Having benefited significantly from public contracts from Conservative-run local authorities such as Croydon Council, last year Olympic South made a “donation” of the use of a bus for Boris Johnson’s election campaign.

But according to the Traffic Commissioner, “The double decker bus used during the London Mayoral Campaign should have been subject to EU tachograph rules.”

In effect, the Mayor of London who has responsibility for the capital’s major roads and for the management of Transport for London’s multi-billion pound budget, was out on the streets of the city in a vehicle that did not meet European road safety regulations.

Inside Croydon has obtained a copy of Denton’s written report on Boris’s dodgy battle bus and Olympic South’s other vehicles, some of which were used to transport Croydon children to school daily.

The Commissioner is highly critical of the Johnson campaign donors. Denton accuses the company of “ignorance” of “the rules concerning transport managers” and failing to check vehicle operation rules.

The Commissioner reported that the company director, Henry Bilinski, failed to conduct required maintenance audits. “The maintenance records were poor and the Driver Defect Reporting system was inadequate,” Denton said.

Maintenance facilities were also regarded as “inadequate”. Many of Olympic South’s vehicles “had the wrong class of MOT certificate”. Denton even says that he had found evidence that an Olympic South employee “had a role in putting a vehicle through the wrong class of MOT”.

In order for the company to operate the 60 licences it has lost, “the company will need to demonstrate a period of compliant operation”, Denton said.

The Traffic Commissioner ordered the company to remove from its website the offer of “excursion services and any other services for which tachographs are required, until such time as the operator is fully geared up to oversee tachograph use and analysis”.

Despite such a damning report into the transport operator responsible for the safety of Croydon children on a daily basis, our council says it has no plans to terminate the company’s £475,000 annual contract to operate one coach and 23 taxi routes on the school run in the borough.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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