"Chaotic" maintenance sees Brian Lee Hughes lose O-licence hours after public inquiry

Roller brake test

 

A South Wales aggregates haulier had its O-licence revoked just hours after it attended a public inquiry after it operated vehicles in a lamentable condition.

Traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Jones said that Swansea-based Brian Lee Hughes’ maintenance regime was “chaotic or non-existent” and roller-brake testing was inadequate for vehicles that regularly worked off-road.

Both the operator’s MoT failure rate and five-year PG9 rate were twice the national average.

The only roller-brake tests carried out by the operator were done prior to vehicles being taken for their MoT, despite them being more likely to suffer damage to brakes and other components than vehicles not used off-road.

Preventative maintenance inspections (PMIs) were not completed at six-weekly intervals as suggested when the O-licence was granted. The TC said an operator using HGVs in quarries or other similar off-road activity should have considered putting vehicles through their PMI at four-weekly intervals.

The paperwork for the PMIs that were carried out did not include essential features such as mileage; the inspector’s signature; roadworthiness signature; defect endorsements and tyre tread depths.

Defects recorded by drivers on successive dates were not rectified, including braking defects. Hughes, who is also the business’s nominated transport manager, said he felt the defects were not safety issues.

The TC said: “The sorry state of maintenance was exacerbated by the fact that there were many lengthy periods between some of the PMIs.

“There are crucial road safety issues involved in this case. When this operator’s vehicles are used on public roads, they will often be on roads with relatively steep inclines where good, efficient, braking systems are essential.”

Although Hughes had four operating centres listed on his O-licence, three other sites had been used without permission.

“The operator knew he did not have authority to use unauthorised operating centres, but still did so. It reflects a wholesale disregard of the law,” Jones said.

The TC had not been notified about four separate maintenance providers that had been used by Hughes. However, at the time of the hearing in June, he did not have a maintenance contract in place.

Although evidence suggested that Hughes’ paperwork had improved, he did not keep Working Time Directive records for the occasions he drove.

Jones said Hughes appeared “unable or unwilling to run a safe transport business”.

His O-licence was revoked at midnight on 17 June, following the PI on 16 June. Hughes was disqualified from acting as a transport manager for an indefinite period.

Jones said: “I have only once, perhaps twice, ordered an almost immediate revocation… this reflects the seriousness of the critical road safety issues and the inability to operate from a lawful operating centre.”

The TC did however acknowledge that Hughes expressed remorse and recognised that eight drivers had lost their jobs as a result of his failings.