Enfield-based Simply Removals has had its O-licence suspended for a month following a public inquiry (PI) into overloading and drivers’ hours offences.
In a written decision after the November hearing in Eastbourne, south east deputy traffic commissioner (TC) John Baker suspended the firm’s standard international O-licence for five vehicles from 1 December until 2 January 2019, saying it “serves as a reminder to this operator and others that ongoing compliance is essential.”
A traffic examiner’s report, carried out into Simply Removals after one of its trucks was discovered overloaded in September 2017, was “mostly satisfactory” but a significant number of drivers’ hours infringements were found. However, the operator and four of its drivers were prosecuted in January - for a combination of the original overload, the drivers’ hours infringements and another overload offence in July 2017 - resulting in convictions and fines.
After a further overloading offence in November 2017 a driver was prosecuted and convicted in June this year. Another traffic examiner report in June 2018 revealed a high number of tachograph breaches, including 196 occasions of driving without a card.
An August maintenance investigation was marked as unsatisfactory and more vehicle overloading offences were discovered in September and October. At the inquiry, a DVSA traffic examiner told the deputy TC that Simply Removals had made improvements between the first traffic examiner’s report in 2017 and the visit this year but the changes had not gone far enough.
He felt Stephen Ashby, transport manager for the operator since 2016, and who was responsible for two other companies which had one vehicle each in operation, had not devoted enough time to analysing the tachograph records. Sole director of Simply Removals Damian Muretti said he had recently brought in an external tachograph records consultant to assist and that things had now improved drastically, with a much reduced rate of driver infringements recorded in October.
The firm had acquired a tool to prevent overloading of vehicles, had changed its contracted maintenance provider and systems were now in place to ensure PMI periods were achieved. Ashby also told the deputy TC he was now able to dedicate more hours to his work with Simply Removals.
He had realised during 2017 that the tachograph analysis system in place at the time was not giving him all the information he required and now also understood that he had not paid enough attention to the driver records aspects of compliance. Deputy TC Baker said Ashby’s repute as a transport manager is retained but severely tarnished.
“Both he and the operator should be acutely aware that if there is any further significant and/or prolonged non-compliance the licence is likely to be revoked and Mr Ashby’s repute lost”, he added. Simply Removals will also undertake an audit of its transport operation to be carried out in no less than five months and no more than seven months from the date of the PI.