Traffic Commissioner (TC) for Scotland, Joan Aitken has suspended three Bonnybridge-based hauliers for a “tangled family weave” that allowed one of them to operate vehicles in excess of its authorisation.
In a written decision following a May PI in Edinburgh, the TC found that Mark Valentine, boss of Valentine Haulage Bonnybridge, had used spare capacity on the O-licence of his father-in-law William Wright for financial gain. Valentine Haulage Bonnybridge was granted a standard national O-licence for two vehicles and two trailers in January 2014. Mark Valentine picked up tipper work from Tarmac, mainly around central Scotland, after being introduced by Wright, who was already a contractor for the construction materials company.
However, in September 2016, two of Valentine Bonnybridge’s vehicles were put on Wright’s licence and one of them was not de-specified until May this year - several weeks after the date of the public inquiry call-up letter. Valentine’s younger brother Martin, who had an O-licence trading as Denval Haulage, had purchased a vehicle in the belief that he would also get a Tarmac contract.
When it failed to materialise, Valentine Bonnybridge used the vehicle on Tarmac work instead. The TC said there was a tangled family weave, at the heart of which was Mark Valentine’s ambition to have a larger haulage operation than allowed.
“There is the context of familial loyalties and assistance as distinct from sale of a margin on the cowboy market,” she said. “However, the fact all of this happened between family cannot begin to excuse what was going on and Mark Valentine chose to exploit that his father-in-law had a licence with a margin.
“Unlawful operating through ‘keeping it in the family’ is not permitted and is an arrangement which strikes at fair competition and trust. “It is beyond doubt that being thwarted by a fundamental lack of the financial standing needed for an authorisation of more than two vehicles, Mark Valentine arranged to use the margin on Wright’s licence.”
. suspended the Valentine Haulage Bonnybridge O-licence for three months from 30 October, gave the company and Mark Valentine a severe warning, and refused its variation application for four vehicles and six trailers. It cannot increase its authorisation for at least 12 months following the suspension;
. suspended the William Wright trading as Wm Wright Contracts O-licence for three months from 30 October after which it will be reduced to one vehicle and one trailer. She gave Wright a severe warning as to his repute as operator and transport manager. He is not permitted to be a transport manager on any licence and is removed from the licence of Martin Valentine trading as Denval Haulage as transport manager. Satisfactory evidence of financial standing must be produced by 31 January 2019 or the licence will be revoked;
. suspended the O-licence of Martin Valentine trading as Denval Haulage for three months from 30 October. It has three months to allow a new transport manager to be appointed. She also severely warned Martin Valentine as to his repute.