A long-running investigation into drivers’ hours offences and good repute at Cheltenham livestock haulier Gilders Transport has reached another stage, after the Upper Tribunal ordered the case back to the traffic commissioner (TC) for clarification on 1 February.
Last June, West of England TC Kevin Rooney took measures against the firm, including disqualifying Shaun Gilder from acting as a transport manager for three years; curtailing the company’s licence by 20%; and refusing an increase in fleet size.
These decisions came at a public inquiry (PI) in the wake of an investigation into hours and tachograph compliance in 2014 that uncovered 122 offences by 15 drivers. These predominantly involved tachograph falsification to hide daily rest and other infringements.
After the PI, Gilders appealed against aspects of the TC’s decision, and in July was allowed a stay upon the decision upon the undertaking that Foster Tachographs would provide monthly reports on drivers’ hours and tachograph compliance. A monthly report would be sent to the TC.
At the Upper Tribunal hearing, barrister Mark Lapprell, representing Gilders, said the company accepted there were substantial failings in relation to drivers’ hours and tachographs, and that it was not arguing for a slap on the wrist.
But he said that it was unclear precisely how the TC came to his decision to curtail 20% of the fleet.
Judge Beech agreed there was a lack of clarity on this decision but she did not agree with the appeal’s suggestion that the disqualification of Shaun Gilder was sufficient regulatory action.
Judge Beech said in her written summary: “We must make clear that upon review of all the evidence, our conclusions about the company’s failings are less favourable than those of the TC.
“We do not feel able in the circumstances to do anything other than remit this matter for further consideration by the TC.
“We accept that upon his findings of fact it would be difficult for him to impose more serious regulatory action, and that in all likelihood that would be unfair, but nevertheless he must, to use ordinary language, sort this matter out by way of clarification or otherwise.”