West Midlands haulier TSB Transport has had its O-licence revoked after one of its vehicles was found to be fitted with an AdBlue emulator device.
TSB, based at Tividale between Oldbury and Dudley, is just the latest in an epidemic of hauliers this year using cheating devices to evade using AdBlue in their trucks.
A public inquiry (PI) held in Birmingham on 19 April heard that a TSB truck was stopped last November and found with the emulator fitted.
A subsequent investigation by DVSA examiner Paul Matthews found that the driver of the vehicle, Buta Singh Bassi, had paid £650 to have the emulator fitted.
He had been told that it was all right to do this as long as the truck did not go into London. Bassi’s wife, Jaswinder Kaur Bassi, was the sole named director although the PI heard that it was her husband who seemed to be in charge of the firm.
In addition to the use of the emulator the DVSA investigation found that there were gaps in the safety inspection records for both truck and trailer, with six weekly intervals not always respected; the vehicle was not being given any sort of metered brake test; driver defect reporting was intermittent; that both truck and trailer had incurred two prohibitions from three encounters; and that the MOT pass rate over five years was only 50%, against a national average of 72%.
Both Mr and Mrs Bassi were among those attending the PI, although it became apparent that she did not even know what AdBlue was and was a director in name only.
Mr Bassi confirmed that he had been “told by a friend” that it was OK to fit an emulator if the vehicle did not enter London, but he declined to identify this friend.
The PI, presided over by TC Nicholas Denton, also heard that the financial standing of the company was not sufficient to support a standard licence, with the average bank balance over three months amounting to just under £1,600, well short of the £12,350 necessary for the licence for two vehicles and two trailers.
Denton said in his written decision that a reputable operator would not fit a cheat device and therefore TSB Transport had shown it was not of good repute.
The company had also failed in its promises when it applied for a licence to give regular safety inspections, ensure drivers record defects in writing and to ensure that drivers’ hours and tachographs are observed.
Denton said: “It is clear to me that Mr and Mrs Bassi are out of their depth. The company has insufficient working capital; they have failed to appreciate the seriousness of their use of an AdBlue emulator; they have not responded in any concrete way to VE Matthews’ report; and they have failed to appreciate the seriousness of a public inquiry – Mrs Bassi did not read the call-up letter and accompanying brief while Mr Bassi did read them but failed to bring many of the records requested.”
As well as revoking the licence the TC disqualified both Mr and Mrs Bassi from holding a licence for two years.
By David Harris