The traffic commissioner for the West Midlands has waded into the controversy of engineering plant remaining exempt from O-licensing, calling for its “rapid abolition”.
TC Nick Denton said the public would not understand how a 32-tonne vehicle [such as a mobile or terrain crane) could operate without a licence while other 32-tonne HGVs could not, and he demanded an end to the loophole for plant equipment.
In the TCs’ annual report, Denton cited a case involving serious negligence by an operator that led to a “horrific accident and permanent injuries to a bystander.”
He said: “Even though I revoked its operator licence and disqualified its director for eight years my concern is that it will try to carry on in business using the exemption from operator licensing enjoyed by plant vehicles.
“I have written to various companies who have sub-contracted work in the past to this operator, to draw their attention to their contractor’s lack of care for safety and to pose the question of the reputational risk the use of such a company could pose for them.
“But someone somewhere will probably be tempted still to give this company work.”
Denton added: “The general public would likely not understand how 32-tonne vehicles with cranes are somehow exempt from licensing while other 32-tonne vehicles are not.
“I look forward to the rapid abolition of this exemption which has been under consideration for some time.”
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has lobbied for years for volumetric concrete mixers to be regulated as HGVs and Jerry McLaughlin, MPA director for economics and public affairs, said he agreed “100%” with Denton’s comments.
“Before Christmas, transport minister Jesse Norman announced he would bring volumetrics within the scope of O-licensing and drivers’ hours and working time rules and consult on weights, with a proposed transition period limit of 38-tonnes for four-axle volumetrics,” he said.
“From our perspective this is a very positive announcement and the sooner there is regulatory convergence for volumetrics and other HGVs the better.”
In December, the DfT said a decision on licensing was expected soon.
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