A public inquiry is a formal hearing held by a Traffic Commissioner. There are three main types of public inquiry:
- To consider an application for a new operator’s licence or a variation of an existing licence where there are concerns that the operator is not satisfying all the regulations to hold a licence;
- To consider an application for a new operator’s licence or a variation to an existing licence where there are environmental concerns:
- To consider any shortcomings of an existing operator’s licence and to determine whether regulatory action is required.
At a public inquiry to determine an application the Traffic Commissioner will consider evidence from the applicant and if required any valid opposition to the application. When reviewing an operating centre the Traffic Commissioner will consider evidence from the operator and any valid
objections. In regulatory cases the Traffic Commissioner will consider evidence from the operator and usually evidence provided by VOSA or other regulatory authorities.
In all public inquiries the Traffic Commissioner may also hear from additional witnesses and, if the Traffic Commissioner considers it appropriate, may be assisted by a financial assessor.
When a Traffic Commissioner has received valid opposition to an application, the Traffic Commissioner may consider that it is appropriate to hold a public inquiry. This gives all interested parties an opportunity to present their case to the Traffic Commissioner.
A Traffic Commissioner may decide that a public inquiry is necessary in order to clarify information that has been received, which raises concerns. Additionally, a Traffic Commissioner must hold a public inquiry if regulatory action is being considered against an existing licence and the operator requests a hearing. Furthermore, a Traffic Commissioner must hold a public inquiry if regulatory action is being considered against a Transport Manager’s good repute and/or professional competence.