Rochester-based WSG Transport has had its O-licence revoked following a public inquiry (PI) that revealed a string of maintenance and tachograph-related failings.
In a written decision following the July PI in Eastbourne, Sarah Bell, traffic commissioner (TC) for London and the South East also disqualified the company’s sole director William Pucknell from holding or obtaining an O-licence.
The operator had appeared at PIs in 2009, 2011 and 2012. On each occasion, regulatory action was taken. A DVSA traffic examiner conducted an investigation in 2016, which was marked unsatisfactory, and a formal warning was sent.
In July 2017, a DVSA traffic examiner who stopped the operator’s driver, Christopher Kent, at the roadside noted that a restriction on his driving licence prevented him from driving the vehicle in question and he had not completed the requisite hours for his Driver CPC qualification. The vehicle was out of its two-year tachograph calibration, being nearly a month late.
In an interview in November 2017 Pucknell, on behalf of WSG Transport, admitted he had not understood the restriction on Kent’s driving licence. Nor had he checked the database to ensure Kent had his driver qualification card. Pucknell admitted he was aware the vehicle was out of calibration on the day and it was poor judgement that he allowed the vehicle to be used.
Checks at the time of the interview, when drivers’ hours and tachograph records were checked by a third-party transport consultancy, showed systems at the company were generally satisfactory.
In February, a DVSA vehicle examiner tried to carry out an unannounced maintenance investigation at one of the company’s listed operating centres in Chatham Dockyard. There was no evidence of WSG Transport and no-one seemed to be aware of the operator. At a pre-arranged investigation in March, PMI sheets were out of date and there appeared to be no provision for brake testing and tyre checks.
Driver defect sheets did not always have defects shown as rectified and there was no evidence of a re-torque procedure or system audits. At the PI the company could not provide current evidence of compliance with the drivers’ hours and tachograph regimes or documentary evidence of training or disciplinary procedures.
There was no evidence of monitoring, auditing or toolbox talks and virtually no evidence that DVSA advice had been taken on board. TC Bell said there was a history that assurances given to TCs and DVSA examiners over the years had not been followed through or maintained.
She added: “The operator, through the conduct of Mr Pucknell, has been afforded many chances over years. The current assessment of compliance and the deficiencies in control, knowledge and approach in terms of compliance are an affront to the hard working legitimate industry and pose a real risk to road safety.
“I have concerns about his integrity and candour, which is unlikely be remedied by time spent in a training room.” Pucknell also lost his repute as a transport manager and has been disqualified from acting as a transport manager for two years.