Compliance systems in a "dire state" at food wholesaler

Ashleigh Wight
October 18, 2016

North East traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney has said a food wholesaler is unfit to hold a restricted O-licence, because of fears that “compliance will deteriorate” following its public inquiry (PI).

The TC said things had been “about as bad as they can get” at Leeds-based Sing Ko, but with the right transport manager in place and a fresh application for a standard national licence, the firm could demonstrate that it was of good repute should it wish to. The company will lose its restricted O-licence on 
30 November.

Evidence presented at the PI last month included the issue of numerous prohibitions for vehicle maintenance, tachograph and Driver CPC offences.

Director Michael Ly also admitted that the business had run HGVs without permission between September and December 2015, using the O-licence discs that had been issued to linked business Sing Kee Food Supply, which had been liquidated. Sing Ko had been established to allow the liquidated firm’s business to continue.

Just two weeks after its application for an O-licence was granted, a prohibition was issued on the use of Sing Kee Food Supply’s O-licence disc.

Ly told the TC that it had failed to request an interim O-licence due to the pressure of work.

TC Rooney said the company’s systems were in a “dire state”, with no tachograph analysis and no maintenance forward planner in place.

It also operated older vehicles and maintenance inspections revealed “a dozen or more” vehicle defects on each occasion, including loose wheel nuts, binding brakes, ABS defects, broken mirrors and damaged seatbelts.

The TC noted that drivers reported very few defects, but when they did they were not rectified promptly.

Prohibitions had also been issued for overloading, which Ly put down to driver and loader error.

The TC said: “Very recent action has been taken to improve systems but that appears only as a result of the public inquiry.

“Fledgling systems are in place, he has attended an operator licence awareness course and further training is arranged for drivers and managers.”

However, the TC said he could not trust the business to run a compliant operation under a restricted O-licence in future.

He said: “This is an operator who puts his primary business ahead of compliance, evidenced by the delayed application of a new licence, the continued operation of vehicles on the old licence and the comment made to DVSA senior traffic examiner Paul Berriman that he would need ‘eight days in a week to have the time to attend a seminar’.

“I am in no doubt that, once the inquiry is a distant memory, compliance will deteriorate once more.”

He said that should the company choose to apply for a standard O-licence, it would have to employ a transport manager with a focus on compliance.

The decision to revoke its O-licence at the end of November allows the company time to make a new application and put a transport manager in place.

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