East of England traffic commissioner (TC) Richard Turfitt (pictured) has disqualified a director from holding an O-licence for an indefinite period after he failed to attend a public inquiry (PI).
Turfitt revoked Leicestershire-based Dhillon Transport’s permission to run HGVs, finding that it had not complied with several of the undertakings it had agreed to when its O-licence for three vehicles and two trailers was granted in 2015.
The company, which has sites in Breedon-on-the-Hill and Coalville, had also operated without a transport manager for several months. The PI in October was told that a former transport manager requested to remove his name from the firm’s O-licence on the day the licence commenced, and he was only replaced nine months later.
An investigation into the operator began following the issue of a fixed penalty notice for a suspension defect in October 2015. It was invited to a vehicle testing station in November 2015, but failed to attend on two occasions. Director Charanjit Singh Dhillon eventually attended in December 2015, and a number of serious shortcomings were discovered, including a vehicle that had two out of eight brakes inoperable at the time of the test.
Preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) records produced showed it had failed to inform the TC of a change in maintenance provider; shortcomings in its driver defect reporting system; and missing PMI documents for a vehicle.
A broken spring and ABS fault had been identified in August 2015 and were not fixed until 10 days later, after the truck had travelled a further 2,193km.
A DVSA examiner concluded that its vehicles had not been inspected at the correct intervals and repairs had not been carried out when defects had been identified.
The TC found that the company had failed to submit audit reports six and 12 months after its O-licence was granted, as it had agreed to, and it did not attend a new operator seminar.
Both Dhillon and transport manager Amritpal Singh Dhugga did not attend the PI. Dhillon said he was ill, but provided no evidence to back up this claim and did not request an adjournment.
In a letter to the TC, Dhugga said the operator had not informed him that the PI was due to take place and he had resigned from his transport manager position in September – the month before the hearing. This confirmed the TC’s concerns that there was no longer a genuine link between the haulier and its nominated transport manager.
Turfitt gave the firm credit for achieving a 100% MoT pass rate, but this was mitigated by the lack of regular PMIs. It had also failed to supply evidence of financial standing.
“I am naturally cautious, but in this case I was concerned that the operator’s deliberate decision not to attend appeared to be an attempt to delay my intervention,” the TC said.