Container haulier Viviago and its director have been disqualified from operating for 18 months after a raft of compliance issues were uncovered following a final warning.
The Simonswood, Lancashire-based company appeared before traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans (pictured) after an FTA audit of its maintenance systems revealed 39 recommendations, 15 of which were essential and urgent.
In addition, DVSA reports of roadside encounters showed a number of S-marked prohibitions, drivers’ hours infringements and the conviction of one driver for drink-driving.
Viviago had appeared at a previous public inquiry (PI) in 2017 after employing a disqualified director, Stephen Evans.
At that PI the TC was satisfied that director Samantha Hughes and transport manager Steven Logan were unaware of Evans’ history and so the company escaped with a formal and final warning.
However, the recent compliance and maintenance issues meant that Hughes and Logan reappeared at a Golborne PI in November 2018.
Hughes told the TC that the company had struggled with paperwork when Logan was absent from the business with illness and that matters arising during this time were down to her “bad management” as she was providing transport manager cover.
She denied prior knowledge of unlawful AdBlue cheat devices being fitted to fleet vehicles and said she was horrified by the significant volumes of prohibitions that had arisen.
She also claimed that the company was doing better than the audit suggested.
Logan also claimed ignorance of the AdBlue devices but admitted he had not monitored the company’s OCRS position and that he had allowed the driver with a drink driving conviction to continue driving for the firm because he was “only just over the limit” and he “liked him”.
However, TC Evans found Hughes’ evidence “considerably self-serving, tending to offer excuses and a passing of the blame to others”. He found Logan’s evidence “credible but on occasion demonstrating a lack of up-to-date knowledge and a poor exercise of judgment, especially where drivers were concerned”.
He added: “This is a bad case. The seriousness of the shortcomings set out and the fact that they range across many areas of activity – a fleet with AdBlue cheat devices fitted to two of its vehicles; the inadequate maintenance arrangements; serious prohibitions; administration shortcomings; a failure to give accurate information to the DVSA; and the commission of offences by drivers – is seriously concerning.”
He ruled that the operator’s repute had been lost, that the company’s licence be revoked and that both Viviago and Hughes be disqualified.
“I record that in the circumstances the repute of its transport manager Steven Logan is not lost but is tarnished by the findings made,” he added. “A formal warning as to his future conduct is recorded.”
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