The director of a haulage firm that operated without a transport manager for seven-and-a-half years, and deliberately misled the DVSA about the role, has been banned from holding an O-licence for three years.
Swadlincote, Derbyshire-based RKH Logistics had never employed a transport manager, despite nominating one on the company’s O-licence application in 2009.
It also lacked the financial facilities to maintain the fleet of 13 vehicles its O-licence gave permission for, which resulted in the company’s O-licence being revoked automatically.
The company will lose its O-licence on 22 November, and the disqualification will apply from the same date.
A public inquiry (PI) last month was told that shortly after RKH Logistics’ O-licence was granted in December 2009, director Rodney Horne told the nominated transport manager that he had engaged a full-time person to carry out the role and his services were no longer needed.
The company then proceeded to operate without a transport manager until the nomination of a new one in July 2017, shortly before the PI.
West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) was told that Horne deliberately misled a DVSA examiner in May 2017 when he told him that he firm’s nominated transport manager was unavailable because of illness. He then purported to be the transport manager in a phone call to the examiner.
The deception continued later that month when Horne told the examiner that he had asked the transport manager to leave immediately because of his health issues.
At a preliminary hearing before the PI, Denton was told that the company had failed in all the basic tasks required of an HGV operator, including downloading tachograph vehicle unit and driver cards; ensuring that drivers’ walk-around checks were carried out and recorded; and carrying out regular safety inspections.
Copies of some driver licences showed that their HGV driving entitlement had expired, and drivers considered the request to present their tachograph cards to the operator as a novelty.
Concerns were also raised that the firm had been lending its O-licence to Johal Dairies.
In the six weeks before the PI, the company began downloading vehicle unit and driver card data and no significant infringements were recorded.
The TC said: “The operator’s behaviour, in pretending it had a transport manager to support its standard national licence and enable it to carry out operations for hire and reward, has undermined the entire regulatory system and has constituted unfair competition against those standard licence holders which play by the rules and employ professionally competent transport managers.”
He said that the serious and sustained nature of Horne’s deception meant that the company was not of good repute.
Although the TC considered disqualifying Horne for between five and 10 years, he gave him credit for being honest and admitting his failings.
No action was taken against the supposed transport manager, but the TC noted that he should have informed the Office of the Traffic Commissioner of his resignation in 2009 or 2010.
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