A Kent-based operator has had its O-licence cut to 13 HGVs from 17 after a public inquiry (PI) heard about a significant number of serious failings, including drivers’ hours offences and using a vehicle without an MoT.
However, deputy traffic commissioner (TC) John Baker said there was a lack of evidence to prove that B&H Haulage’s director had conspired to falsify a tacho record, despite the claims of a former driver.
The Erith company appeared before the deputy TC after one of its drivers was stopped by the DVSA and found to not have the correct entitlement to drive the 32-tonne truck.
A follow-up investigation uncovered failures in checking driving licences and repeat drivers’ hours and working time directive offences, with no disciplinary action taken.
One driver, Guy Ayscough, who’d removed his driver card for over half an hour, said he’d been told by director Simon Butcher how to falsify his driver defect report and tacho print-out to cover his tracks.
Giving evidence to the PI, Butcher admitted that he was operating up to 22 vehicles and had been transferring them on and off the licence as they were required. He accepted this was not permitted and he was now in the process of disposing some of his fleet.
However, he was adamant that he had not been involved in the fraud claimed by Ayscough.
In his decision, TC Baker acknowledged that the driver’s evidence was inconsistent: “Whilst I am suspicious as to what precisely did occur, I am not satisfied to the standard of proof required that Mr Butcher was complicit in the fraudulent record and subsequent attempted deception carried out by Mr Ayscough,” he said.
“I nevertheless find that there were a significant number of serious failings by this operator.
“The number and type of prohibitions being found, the level of driver’s hours offences and infringements, the use of a vehicle without an MoT, the use of an unauthorised vehicle, and the failure to spot that a driver did not have the required entitlement all point to an operator whose compliance levels were well below what is required.”
However, he also pointed to positive factors, such as good MoT pass rates and the employment of a new transport manager.
The deputy TC concluded that Butcher’s repute was severely tarnished and curtailed the licence.