The traffic commissioner has refused an application to run 50 HGVs by a Peterborough haulage firm after he found that the company had already started operating vehicles.
The people behind REL Haulage also came in for criticism from TC Nick Denton, who he said had a long history of failed companies behind them and hived off the profitable parts leaving creditors high and dry. The financial standing required for the licence was £228,500 and the funds were provided by a Jersey-based investor called Andy Scott. In a letter to the central licensing office, director Ian Newman explained that the intention was that REL Haulage would take on the profitable work of two distressed haulage companies: BB Transport and REL Storage + Logistics, both of which had the same director, Adam Lewis. If the licence was granted then Lewis would provide an overseeing role. However, because of fears that the application might be a device to sidestep paying creditor debts and due to the track records of both Scott and Lewis being involved in failed companies, the TC called them to a PI.
In submissions, Scott described himself as an offshore investor and that he was proud to have saved over 500 jobs in the past five years. He explained that REL Haulage would bring together the profitable elements of other hauliers and it would be run as a long-term investment. Lewis said that he was a “turnaround specialist” and therefore it was unsurprising that occasionally firms he was involved in failed.
The TC was given a copy of a letter written by Lewis to all employees of REL Storage + Logistics threatening them with redundancy as a result of Denton’s decision. In his written decision, the TC said it “appeared to me to be a somewhat crude attempt to pressurise me into taking the ‘right’ decision. Mr Lewis explained that he simply wanted to alert me to the consequences if the application were to be refused.” Under questioning, Newman also admitted that it “might have jumped the gun a bit” and already started operating lorries.
Refusing the application, Denton said: “Showing me a letter, dated the very day of the inquiry, threatening staff with redundancy as a result of the traffic commissioner’s decision, was a repugnant attempt to influence my decision and not the act of a reputable company.” The company has since appealed the decision.