A haulier who used an O-licence from one area to cover vehicles operating in another has been disqualified and lost his good repute in a decision by traffic commissioner (TC) for Scotland Joan Aitken.
Allen Transport and director Daniel Allen, who was also transport manager, were disqualified from holding an O-licence in any traffic area for two years from 30 May in Scotland, with a licence for the South East and Metropolitan area being revoked immediately.
A written decision from Aitken detailed the findings from a public inquiry (PI) held in Edinburgh on 29 March, which heard that a vehicle stopped in a roadside check in Aberdeen in September 2016 bore a disc from a Scottish licence but had been despecified six months earlier.
After further investigation Allen admitted he had been operating vehicles authorised on a South East licence in Scotland and “not over a short period”. Suspicions had been raised because several of the vehicles on the London licence had been presented for annual test, “not in London as might be expected, but in Scotland”.
It was then agreed between Aitken and the South East TC, Sarah Bell, that a PI into both licences should be held in Scotland.
At the March PI Aitken concluded that the use of vehicles on the South East O-licence in Scotland had been excessive.
She wrote in her written decision: “From sometime in 2015, Allen Transport has operated goods vehicles in Scotland in excess of the authorisation specified on the licence granted on 14 January 2014. On balance of probabilities I find that such excessive use has been to the extent of a minimum of 12 vehicles, including vehicles specified on the [South East and Metropolitan] licence. Such excess use did not reduce until sometime after the call to Public Inquiry.”
Allen Transport was originally granted licences in both the South East and Scotland traffic areas in early 2014 but the concentration on work in Scotland developed after the firm gained work on the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, a major infrastructure site.
Applications to vary the licence by use of a new operating centre in 2016 and to increase authorisation in 2017 received objections from Aberdeenshire Council on road safety grounds, although by 31 May an understanding was reached and the council’s formal objection was withdrawn.
Neverthless, the PI concluded that Allen Transport had been using vehicles specified on its London licence in Scotland since early 2015; use which did not stop until 20 March this year.
Aitken revoked the Allen licences on the grounds of loss of repute, loss of professional competence, breach of licence undertakings and material change.
She added: “In respect of Mr Allen’s repute as a transport manager, that is lost, that being a proportionate outcome. He has not proved trustworthy in his duties for this licence. He cannot be trusted with the licence of any other legal entity. I have to disqualify him and will do so for two years. He is an intelligent man, not lacking in knowledge or ability. It was attitude and false priorities which led to his downfall in this case.”