The director of a Birmingham company who did nothing over an extended period of time to improve compliance with maintenance and drivers’ hours rules has been disqualified for three years.
West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) said his degree of trust in operator BS & NK Panesar was so small that he gave it less than the usual 28 days’ notice ahead of its O-licence being revoked. The revocation took effect on 29 May.
It emerged that director Balbinder Panesar had delegated all responsibility for the transport side of the building and plumbing supplies business to his son, Kamaljit Panesar, who had previously been involved in sales.
Numerous issues with maintenance, driver walk-around checks and drivers’ hours compliance were discovered by the DVSA, a public inquiry (PI) was told last month.
In the two years before the PI, seven roadworthiness prohibitions were given to the firm for defects such as three inoperative indicators; a damaged mirror; inoperative rear brake lights; an inoperative headlight; and missing sideguards.
Denton described the operator’s vehicles as “clearly in a lamentable condition on a regular basis.”
Three fixed penalty notices were issued to drivers within the same timeframe, for offences including insufficient weekly rest; driving with illegal tyre tread depths; and having a tachograph set to the wrong time. One truck had been driven for 697km between October and March without a driver card inserted. On a further 67 days, driving had taken place before and after the card had been inserted.
The DVSA also discovered that drivers were not carrying out their checks; defect books were not being used; and defects identified at safety inspections were not always fixed.
Balbinder Panesar told the PI that the agency drivers who had committed the drivers’ hours offences had been blacklisted from working with the firm. The remaining employed drivers had recently attended Driver CPC courses on drivers’ hours and walk-around checks.
A DVSA examiner told the PI that the operator had “little regard for road safety”.
It also emerged that a consultant had stepped away from helping the business because a member of staff asked him whether he could provide the name of a company that would be prepared to issue a Driver CPC certificate without the driver completing the training.
The consultant, who gave evidence at the hearing, also claimed it was clear that six-weekly inspections were not carried out, with gaps regularly reaching 24 to 28 weeks.
The company had attended a PI in 2012, which resulted in conditions concerning vehicle parking being attached to its O-licence. The conditions were not followed.
The TC said: “It has comprehensively ignored these conditions. The fact that it has now offered to tidy the yard…shows that parking in the operating centre would have been possible all along. The scale of failure has been so great, over such a range of compliance issues, and in the face of so many indications that urgent action was required, and a three-year disqualification is fully merited.”