“FORS not fit for purpose,” insists West of England traffic commissioner
Accreditation scheme FORS “isn’t fit for purpose”, with auditing processes that are no longer thorough enough, according to the traffic commissioner for the West of England, Kevin Rooney (pictured).
Rooney’s comments at a recent compliance conference in Somerset appeared to reveal frustration among the traffic commissioners at FORS member companies attending public inquiries with inadequate auditing procedures.
Rooney said: “FORS, as it is currently put together, isn’t fit for purpose. It is not doing what it was meant to do.
“I had one operator in [at a PI] and he had a FORS audit which he provided to me and he said ‘It took me a full 40 minutes on the phone to fill that in.’
“The operator hadn’t even been visited.”
The TC gave another example of a company which had not filled out preventative maintenance inspection sheets:
“They were doing inspections and there were scraps of paper in biscuit tins and stuff, but they were not filling out PMI sheets.
“They had a FORS audit straight before a public inquiry that did not pick that up – there were no PMI sheets for the last six months, which is a biggish thing!”
“TfL are aware there are issues.”
Rooney said he believed FORS had become more commercial in recent years and that audits had become more about “have you got a policy for this and that; not: is the policy in place and working?
“I think the auditors haven’t been thorough enough.”
In response, John Hix, FORS director, said it conducted 5,000 Bronze audits every year and that “none of these are ever based on a telephone audit".
He said where a company failed an audit, there might be an opportunity to submit corrective evidence and “the auditor may wish to contact the company by telephone to further verify any queries in relation to these documents”.
Hix said: “We would welcome the traffic commissioner attend a FORS audit in order that he can see for himself how the audit system operates and understand the level of time and effort FORS operators put in to going beyond legal minimum compliance in order to pass these audits.
“FORS has been instrumental in driving up safety and environmental standards in commercial fleets of all types for the last 12 years, providing responses and solutions to emerging issues and challenges facing the road transport industry and those it employs.”
FORS also told motortransport.co.uk that it was not a requirement for members to display a FORS sticker on their vehicles and that a formal letter is sent to anyone displaying an unauthorised one after three reported incidents.
If this was not dealt with then legal action would be taken.
Aecom, which in 2015 won a five-year concession contract to operate, manage and grow FORS, did not respond.