One of the first online public inquiries has taken place since the coronavirus lockdown was announced, with lawyers hailing it as a positive step by the traffic commissioners.
Hampshire Haulage had applied for a standard international licence to run four lorries and four trailers out of an operating centre in Alton, Hampshire and it was called to a PI to discuss the application.
The PI was held remotely last month and the operator was then granted the licence, with undertakings attached to its licence.
The TC directed that Kelly Larvan was to play no part in the management or administration of Hampshire Haulage and also that the company was not to undertake any haulage work for Alton Transport Storage.
The company was also asked to provide financial standing evidence for the three months to August 2020 to the Office of the TC in Bristol by 30 September.
In addition, on the same day, a transport manager PI also took place online and Hampshire Haulage’s Michael Larvan was found to be of good repute.
Laura Newton, solicitor at Smith Bowyer Clarke, which represented the company, said waiting for a PI to take place in person would have taken months.
She said: “We have seen the first hearing take place remotely and it is a real positive step to see that the office of the traffic commissioner is being proactive to assist operators at this time.
“For new applications and variations, a remote digital hearing will prevent long delays which can be costly for those with idle vehicles which still need to be paid for.
“This approach supports the economy and can help keep people in employment.
“It may also help redeploy those affected by stalled businesses due to coronavirus and current government restrictions.”
She added: “Having remote hearings also means less of a backlog once restrictions are lifted.”
Newton said Smith Bowyer Clarke was confident there would be an increase in remote hearings taking place across all traffic areas, but she cautioned:
“Traffic Commissioners will be very conscious of the need for a fair hearing and will only proceed where it is appropriate to do so.
“We do not envisage that any operator would be forced into a remote hearing.”