Scotland’s traffic commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken (pictured) has disqualified the director of a Stornoway-based haulage firm for nine months after a DVSA check revealed “a catalogue of non-compliance”.
Hebridean Hygiene had its restricted O-licence revoked following a public inquiry (PI) in May, which found it had been operating for hire and reward without a standard O-licence and breached drivers’ hours and maintenance rules.
The company was disqualified from holding or applying for an O-licence for nine months. The orders came into effect on 30 June.
The TC said director Murdo O’Connor was “genuinely sorry and remorseful” the company had failed to comply with the O-licence undertakings and claimed there had been insufficient staff at the business.
The offences were discovered following a vehicle check by the DVSA and Police Scotland in Dingwall in September 2016. O’Connor, who was driving the truck, was given a prohibition for insufficient rest.
Further analysis discovered he had committed 46 drivers’ hours infringements, mainly relating to incorrect use of the mode switch.
Examiners also expressed concern the vehicle had been carrying confidential paperwork for Western Isles NHS, destined for shredding in Kirkcaldy. It needed a standard O-licence, rather than a restricted one, to carry out this work. The vehicle was also used to deliver bottled water.
Other issues included the use of a vehicle that did not have an MoT from 31 October 2015 to 21 June 2016; no company card in place; parking at an unauthorised operating centre; no forward planning system; insufficient record keeping; and only three PMI reports in a 15-month period.
O’Connor said since the DVSA’s visit the company had implemented a driver card and data analysis system; had applied for a company card; and was attempting to make the NHS waste the property of Hebridean Hygiene so it could carry out the work under its restricted O-licence. He also proposed to recruit a transport manager or study for a transport manager CPC of his own.
He expressed his embarrassment at his lack of organisation and claimed his interpretation of the drivers’ hours rules had been incorrect.
In her written decision last month, Aitken said: “Mr O’Connor was co-operative and civil, though his failure to have all the records to hand in advance of, and in anticipation of, the examiners’ visit took up more of their time than should have been needed.”
She said the company’s restricted O-licence had been misused.
She added: “There have been serious breaches of the licence undertakings which are there to protect road safety by ensuring vehicles are roadworthy at all times and that drivers are not fatigued.
“I give a very severe warning on fitness – but for Mr O’Connor’s insight, embarrassment and abject apologies, I would have found against fitness.”
The TC said if the company wanted to operate a truck in the future, it had to apply for a standard national O-licence, employ a transport manager, and achieve the required financial standing.