Bath tipper operator had O-licence revoked in 2015

 

Grittenham Haulage, the company that operated the tipper that caused the deaths of four people in Bath in February 2015, had its O-licence revoked and was disqualified from operating HGVs for two years from December 2015, it has emerged.

The decision has today been released following a verdict in a court case against director Matthew Gordon, mechanic Peter Wood and driver Philip Potter last month. Wood and Gordon were found guilty of four counts of manslaughter at Bristol Crown Court on 22 December 2016 and will be sentenced on 27 January.

Potter was cleared of all charges.

Traffic commissioner (TC) Sarah Bell found that there had been “wholesale non-compliance” across the business at the time the DVSA carried out an investigation into drivers’ hours and maintenance compliance in February 2015.

The former TC for the West of England revoked the firm’s O-licence from December 2015.

She also imposed a two-year disqualification on the company and director Matthew Gordon from holding or obtaining an O-licence or being involved in the management or administration of an entity that holds one.

DVSA evidence given at a public inquiry (PI) in September 2015 revealed that the operator’s approach to recording brake testing remained too basic an assessment to ensure roadworthiness.

It emerged that the company had not complied with several of the undertakings it agreed to when it was granted an O-licence at a PI in 2013.

It met the finance undertaking three months later than required; arranged independent tachograph analysis only in February 2015; and there was a period of six months where the company did not have a transport manager.

Grittenham Haulage and its drivers were also convicted of a total of 124 offences committed in a 15 week period, including eight by Gordon as a driver, at Bath Magistrates’ Court on 26 August 2015.

The company admitted a total of 40 offences at Bath Magistrates’ Court, including failing to download data from drivers’ cards; failing to download data from vehicle units; using more vehicles than authorised; failing to comply with a request for information and permitting various matters committed by individual drivers.

It was fined a total of £20,000 with £16,000 in costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

Although the TC acknowledged that it had appointed a new transport manager in February 2015, and had made some progress in relation to vehicle maintenance, there were still ongoing issues with drivers’ hours compliance at the time of the hearing.

In her decision issued to the company in October 2015, Bell said the operator had committed a “grave breach of trust”.

She said: “In my judgement Mr Gordon remains unsuitable to direct business operations in relation to compliance. He appears to abdicate his responsibility even to this date.”

 

Image: Press Association