Fronting concerns fell timber operator’s application

Chris Tindall
November 23, 2023

An application to operate two HGVs for a tree felling and firewood business has failed after the deputy traffic commissioner suspected it was a front for the haulier’s disqualified father.

Christopher Bavin, trading as Lincolnshire Bio Fuels, applied for a licence for his company but he was called to a public inquiry after the TC had concerns he was continuing the work previously undertaken by Harry Bavin.

Bavin snr had his licence revoked in 2022 after serious maintenance failings were identified.

At a Cambridge PI, Christopher Bavin said the intention was that his dad would not have any involvement in his new firm; he had engaged a transport consultancy to assist him with compliance and he would undertake an audit and employ an external transport manager if DTC Nicholas Denton felt this was necessary.

However, Denton remained concerned that the new operator’s company was insufficiently distinct from Harry Bavin’s:

“This is not a case of an established business seeking to expand, but of an applicant seeking authorisation to operate precisely the category of vehicle which a near relation has recently been prevented from operating,” he said.

“If Christopher Bavin was intending to operate a skip hire or container operation, I would have been able to conclude that it was sufficiently different from Harry Bavin’s operation for concerns about fronting to fall away. But the intention is to operate in the same sector, and indeed to fill the HGV-shaped hole left in Harry Bavin’s business by the revocation of his operator licence.”

Denton added: “On the evidence presented, I cannot be satisfied that, if the licence application were granted, there would be sufficient clear blue water between Christopher Bavin’s business and that of Harry Bavin, trading as B&B Tree Specialists.

“They would be living in the same house and operating from the same premises in exactly the same business sector.

“Moreover, although Christopher Bavin has attended an operator licence management course – a point in his favour – he did not come across to me as someone who was on top of the issues.

“He seemed unaware, until I reminded him, that a 10 week safety inspection interval was not appropriate for a vehicle more than 20 years old.”

About the Author

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Chris Tindall

Chris Tindall started writing for the haulage and logistics industry in 2002 and has covered a broad range of significant issues, including GPS jamming by criminals, platooning and Brexit.

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