A Sittingbourne operator has had its application to surrender its licence refused after a traffic commissioner found it hid non-compliance and flouted road safety.
TC Sarah Bell said Manual Control was being run by Carl Morris, who was not named on the firm’s application because he was trying to operate “under the radar”. Morris had been involved with a previous company called Dolphin UK, a business that had its licence revoked by Bell in 2018 and at the time she stated that any application involving him in the future must be referred to her. A traffic examiner investigation into Manual Control in 2019 was marked unsatisfactory, but in the months that followed, improvements were not made and recommendations made in an RHA audit were not acted on.
It finally entered liquidation in July 2021 and the firm then lodged an application to surrender the licence, but by this point Manual Control’s non-compliance had come to the attention of the traffic commissioner and she scheduled a PI. Transport manager David Sadler told the TC that although James Morris was listed as the firm’s director, Carl took the lead and even when James stepped back due to ill health, the TC’s office was not notified that a non-director was now in control of the business. Sadler expressed regret that commercial need was put before compliance and that he had allowed this to happen in his name.
In her written decision, TC Bell said that Carl’s deliberate decision not to engage with his transport manager to prevent a proper check on the haulier’s compliance was “calculating and unscrupulous”. She said: “In my judgment, Mr Carl Morris has demonstrated over a period of years, not just months, that he cannot be trusted. It is Mr Carl Morris that has taken the lead on Manual Control Limited since the licence was granted and his conduct impacts on its good repute. Carl Morris decided that it was more important to keep the vehicles on the road and that safety came second. This wholesale disregard for safety is stupefying.”
Bell disqualified the company and Carl for an indeterminate period, but chose not to disqualify James as he was unable to attend the PI due to ill health. Bell said Sadler’s good repute remained “by a gossamer thread” but added that it was severely tarnished.