West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton has warned operators not to use "name only" transport managers who do not carry out their duties.
He also urged transport managers to take action if circumstances change and they can no longer carry out their responsibilities, and consider resigning from their role if their concerns are not listened to by the operator.
Denton said: “A transport manager’s responsibilities cannot be negotiated or neglected. It’s never acceptable for the transport manager named on an operator’s licence to simply stop carrying out their duties.
“Where circumstances change, transport managers must be proactive. If the transport manager is asked to take on another role in the business and that affects their transport duties, they need to speak to the licence holder immediately. If their concerns are not addressed, transport managers should recognise the potential effect on repute and professional competence.”
His warning came after he disqualified Philip Haynes-Smith for an indefinite period when he acted as a transport manager in name only for Telford-based Masters Haulage. Company director Shaughan Genna was also banned from holding an O-licence for an indefinite period.
A DVSA investigation found Haynes-Smith was a full-time driver at the firm and was not paid for his transport manager responsibilties. He had not performed the role of a transport manager for five years, but remained named on the company’s O-licence. Prior to that, he had acted as its transport manager for just £30 a week for eight weeks.
The TC found Haynes-Smith “had no clue” about the drivers’ hours rules and “was one of the worst offending drivers”. Vehicles were frequently missing their six-weekly preventative maintenance inspections; driver walk-around checks were not effective: and vehicles had attracted prohibitions and a high MoT failure rate.
One digital vehicle had never had its tachograph downloaded; vehicles were parking away from the operating centre named on its O-licence; and there were more than 12,000 unaccounted kilometres missing from its analogue tachograph records.
A public inquiry in Birmingham earlier this month was told Haynes-Smith had warned Genna about vehicles parking away from the authorised site and the need to present vehicles for inspections on time, however his advice was not acted upon.
Haynes-Smith accepted he had been a transport manager in name only.
The TC said: “The only positive feature I have been able to identify is that Mr Haynes-Smith may have warned the operator that it was not complying with the regulations. As the operator clearly ignored this advice, Mr Haynes-Smith should have resigned as transport manager. He chose not to do so."
The company went into liquidation in February, but the TC said he would have still revoked its O-licence had it still been trading.
Denton said Genna had ran the business in “an almost wholly non-compliant manner” for several years and his failure to send vehicles for periodic checks and ignoring drivers’ hours rules was “of the gravest concern”.