Bath tipper crash associate called to public inquiry

 

A man associated with Grittenham Haulage, the firm involved in the Bath tipper collision, has been called to a public inquiry (PI) six months after being granted a new O-licence. 

Simon Nicholls is scheduled to appear at a PI in Bristol on 16 May, which will consider investigations by the DVSA into the business’s compliance with vehicle and driver safety standards.

Nicholls, who operates as Simon John Nicholls, was granted an O-licence to run three vehicles in November 2016 after two PIs on his application before traffic commissioner Sarah Bell.

In the first of these hearings on 3 March 2016, Bell highlighted a number of issues with Nicholls’ application for the licence he was later granted, having satisfied them at the second hearing.  

CM can reveal from transcripts of the hearings that the TC queried: contradicting evidence; a lack of evidence of financial standing; and suggestion that a former business, SJN Commercials, had continued trading after losing its O-licence.

Bell told Nicholls: “Do you understand my disquiet that you are here as the applicant? It is you and your repute... there is maintenance history as well in your name.”

Nicholls’ business operates at the same site as former operator Grittenham Haulage, which lost its O-licence in December 2015 after the operator was found to have committed 124 transport offences over 15 weeks.

Nicholls was linked to Grittenham Haulage by its former owner, Matthew Gordon, who was jailed for seven and a half years in January for manslaughter in regards to the fatal tipper collision, which caused the deaths of four people in February 2015.

At the hearing, driver Philip Potter was found not guilty, while Grittenham Haulage mechanic Peter Wood was sentenced to five years and three months for the same offence.

Gordon told the jury at his trial that Nicholls remained involved in running Grittenham Haulage and provided vehicle maintenance. 

This article first appeared in Commercial Motor magazine 4 May. Why not subscribe today?