A Bathgate-based operator narrowly avoided having its licence revoked after a traffic commissioner (TC) heard evidence that it operated more lorries than its licence permitted.
Stuart Strachan, trading as Strachan Haulage, has had his licence curtailed from eight vehicles and eight trailers to three HGVs and four trailers for at least two years by TC Joan Aitken.
She said she only just held back from revoking the licence because of the longevity of the business and the operator’s “mixed up mind”.
A public inquiry (PI) in Edinburgh heard how at one point the operator ran up to 13 HGVs, despite its licence not permitting it. Strachan also did not have systems in place to comply with drivers’ hours and tachograph regulations, and he had not been downloading digital tachos.
A DVSA investigation into the business began in 2015 when the agency found Strachan was operating more vehicles than he was entitled to and that drivers were working long hours.
The TC said Strachan tried to attribute excessive vehicle use to the time taken for the TC’s office to make a decision and his belief that a variation licence would eventually be granted, but in fact he was operating more vehicles in advance of lodging an application.
“How could he possibly think he was entitled to expand his business into a larger fleet serving esteemed customers such as the MoD, Mitsubishi and Tesco when his business was serially non-compliant and he, by his own admission, an incompetent operator and transport manager?” said Aitken.
She stopped short of revoking the licence, but acknowledged her curtailment could take the operator “to the brink”.
She added: “I will hold back from revocation and disqualification – but Mr Strachan should be in no doubt that he stares at that void.”
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