Traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) has warned transport managers to be vigilant when they agree to be nominated on an O-licence.
The West Midlands TC issued the advice after a replacement transport manager admitted he had no contact with the O-licence holder for almost a year while his application was being reviewed. The TC said this should have been a strong indication that something was amiss.
The warning followed a public inquiry (PI) last week which saw Birmingham-based Ace Drinks lose its O-licence as it had been operating without a transport manager since December 2015. Director Parminder Dhadwal was also disqualified from holding an O-licence for a year.
The PI was told that former transport manager Charles North had resigned from the business in December 2015, due to lack of communication with Dhadwal. Renford Stephenson applied to take over the position in April 2016.
Stephenson admitted at the PI that he had never met Dhadwal; had no involvement with Ace Drinks while his application was being considered; and had never carried out transport manager duties for the firm even on an informal basis.
He said his phone calls to the operator had not been returned and he had not known that the company no longer wanted to employ him until the PI.
Dhadwal failed to attend the hearing or provide evidence of financial standing. He emailed the Office of the Traffic Commissioner prior to the PI and explained he would not be attending due to commercial commitments in Spain, and blamed a member of staff for not responding to correspondence.
The company had its O-licence suspended in January as it had not responded to the ‘propose to revoke’ letters it had been sent.
Denton said revocation was mandatory as Ace Drinks had “long since exhausted the maximum period of grace allowed for operations without a transport manager”.
He said of Dhadwal: “Because he has behaved in such an irresponsible manner, in failing to answer numerous pieces of correspondence and continuing to operate for 14 months without any kind of functioning transport manager (whether formerly accepted on the licence or not), and in notifying my clerk of his non-attendance at the inquiry only a few hours before it was due to take place, I conclude that a period of disqualification is appropriate.”