A Cheltenham-based livestock haulier will have its fleet authorisation on its West of England O-licence curtailed from 33 to 25 vehicles, after several drivers were convicted for various tachograph offences.
Gilders Transport has also been given until tomorrow (18 July) to establish professional competence or face O-licence revocation, after transport manager Shaun Gilder was disqualified for three years.
An investigation into drivers’ hours and tachograph compliance in 2014 uncovered 122 offences by 15 drivers. These predominantly involved tachograph falsification to hide daily rest and other infringements.
Seven drivers were convicted for a total of 61 tachograph falsifications and 17 offences of failing to use a driver card or analogue record sheet.
A public inquiry (PI) in May was told the offences were mostly committed on jobs to the Rungis meat market near Paris. The market was noisy and drivers often removed their tachograph card in order to drive to a safe, quiet place to rest.
The company said a transport planner now checks whether drivers have enough time to carry out their work and take a break, and relief drivers are based near Rungis to assist if there are issues.
Digital tachograph downloading equipment was available for drivers to use, and analysis was taking place every 28 days.
Driver Jason Treharne had used another driver’s card to create false records. The company informed the DVSA at an earlier interview that the card, issued to driver Christopher Heydon, was no longer in possession, but it emerged it still had the card at the PI.
DVSA evidence suggested that Gilder had been aware of the use of Heydon’s card in October 2014 and challenged Treharne at the time. However, a recording of a DVSA interview that took place in July 2015 suggested the card had been returned to Treharne.
West of England traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney (pictured below) disqualified Treharne from vocational driving for 18 months. Heydon, who did not attend DVSA interviews or a driver conduct hearing, was banned until 18 June 2038.
Five other drivers received driving disqualifications of various lengths, and one driver received a formal warning.
Additionally, a prohibition had been issued in September 2016 for an overloading offence. A vehicle, which operated under a STGO, was deemed to be carrying two machines.
The TC said Gilder was adamant that no infringement occurred apart from that the STGO plate was not visible, however his account was not consistent with evidence from the weighbridge.
The firm failed to inform the TC about an £11,000 fine with £4,662 in costs which had been issued in relation to its handling of animal by-products.
Rooney said the behaviour and integrity of Gilder as a transport manager was of “significant concern” and suggested Gilder had sought to mislead him about the overloading incident.
“Mr Gilder also presided as transport manager and chief operating officer at a time when drivers were regularly falsifying records and breaking the drivers’ hours rules,” the TC said in his written decision last month.
He noted that systems had “significantly improved” and took its lack of maintenance issues into account.
He was also impressed by the commitment of Catherine Gilder and Samantha Shea, who had volunteered to undertake their transport manager CPC. He believed they were people who could be trusted to run a smaller fleet compliantly.
The company was given a period of grace to allow a new transport manager to be appointed.