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Bus driver swore, missed stops and drove over limit

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A BUS driver, who swore while driving, missed stops and drove off before passengers were seated, is challenging his dismissal.

A bus driver, who swore while driving, missed stops and drove off before passengers were seated, is challenging his dismissal. At an employment tribunal yesterday he challenged that, saying the punishment was too harsh and felt a written warning would have been more appropriate. (Picture By Peter Frankland, 26300580)

Richard Battle was sacked by CT Plus for gross misconduct earlier this year.

At an employment tribunal yesterday he challenged that, saying the punishment was too harsh and felt a written warning would have been more appropriate.

Earlier this year a disciplinary hearing was held over concerns about Mr Battle’s behaviour. That was dismissed due to the way the investigation was conducted. However, he did have to undergo customer service training. A few weeks after that he was driving the 71 during the afternoon and a customer made a complaint after he missed her stop, despite her ringing the bell. This resulted in CT Plus reviewing all of the footage for that journey, which raised some serious concerns.

As well as the passenger, whose stop was missed, Mr Battle was recorded driving at nearly 30mph, when local buses are not meant to go above 25mph, and not slowing when driving on the pavement.

At the airport, when visitors asked if they should get on the bus, he said it was not going to St Peter Port, even though it was, and he was rude to them, telling them to “use their ears”.

The vehicle was in motion before the doors closed and he also drove off before passengers were seated. He also failed to issue a ticket to one passenger.

In the tribunal, assistant operations manager Mark Varley said there had been problems with Mr Battle’s temper, aggressive behaviour and attitude towards customers in the past.

He denied Mr Battle’s assertions that the company disliked employing local people and had been trying to get rid of him.

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‘He had moments where he shone and I would praise him for those moments,’ he said.

‘And there were times when there were drivers concerned about his aggressive attitude over the radio and to themselves.’

Operations manager Kevin Jackman said Mr Battle did not understand that Mr Varley was trying to help him improve.

When Mr Battle said managers had trawled CCTV to find him making mistakes to sack him, Mr Jackman denied this and said they only looked at CCTV if there was a complaint or an incident.

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Mr Battle had appealed his sacking with the company and that hearing was heard by Jimmy Sommerville. He said the CCTV showed that Mr Battle’s attitude towards passengers was “absolutely appalling” and it was not appropriate to do anything apart from fire Mr Battle.

‘There was a number of occasions where I felt there was gross misconduct in this case,’ he said.

But Mr Battle said the company had been trying to get rid of him and he was bullied and harassed.

‘All of this was made up by management to try and get me out,’ he said.

‘The company does not like local people who do a good job.’

He said he had been signed off ill with stress because of the pressure put on him by the company.

Former CT Plus driver Neil Shepherd gave evidence that the company avoided employing local people and there had been countless attempts to get rid of Mr Battle.

The tribunal was made up of Roger Brookfield, Alison Girollet and chairman Jason Hill.

They hope to deliver a decision within a couple of weeks.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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