‘Accident waiting to happen’ operator has licence revoked

digital tachograph

A Sittingbourne operator that demonstrated failings “across the board” including running almost double the number of vehicles it was authorised to, has had its licence revoked.

AJL Transport appeared before the South Eastern traffic commissioner Sarah Bell after a roadside encounter with the DVSA revealed the vehicle’s unit had not been downloaded for 505 days. There were also five occasions when no driver card had been inserted. A follow-up visit to the operator’s premises by a traffic examiner uncovered 256 incidences of driving ‘off-card’, no driver licence checks and no systems to analyse drivers’ hours and working time directive compliance. It also transpired that AJL was using an unauthorised operating centre. Five months later, another roadside encounter with the DVSA found many of these issues still apparent.

At a public inquiry before the TC, director and transport manager Maria Lee appeared along with former director Anthony Lee, who had resigned as director the previous day. Neither of the directors challenged the DVSA evidence and they also admitted operating up to nine vehicles when the current entitlement was five.

In her written decision, the TC said the company had done this for commercial gain and, as transport manager, Maria Lee had “turned her head to the obvious.” She said: “This operation was an accident waiting to happen. Mr Lee was left to deal with the drivers much of the time and his approach was commercially driven. Mr Lee was left to deal with the maintenance. His approach to maintenance standards remains years out of date. Mrs Lee retained some responsibility for tachograph analysis but was not up to it.”

TC Bell added: “This is a bad case and this operator deserves to be put out of business. I hope that the message sent out will be clear to all that this wholesale disregard for the operator licensing regime will not be tolerated.”

She said the operator had lost its repute and revoked the licence. In addition, she found that, as transport manager, Maria had lost her repute and disqualified her from acting as TM for four years. She also disqualified Anthony from acting as director for four years but added that she wasn’t disqualifying Maria as director: “This leaves open a small window to apply again with an external transport manager,” she added.

CV Show and ITT Hub will both take place in 2021

The UK Commercial Vehicle Show will be back at the NEC in 2021, but will now run from 31 August to 2 September. This change in date is a response to the government’s roadmap to easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Murray Ellis, show director, said: “With live business activity returning, we are delighted to be able to stage a Commercial Vehicle Show on these new dates, and are focused on delivering a successful show for visitors, exhibitors and the industry. The Show will once again provide the perfect opportunity to see new vehicles, products and technology alongside networking that the Show is renowned for.”

Meanwhile the ITT Hub has confirmed that its inaugural event will still take place at the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre on 30 June and 1 July. In a statement, the ITT Hub advisory board said it was confident of being able to “deliver a safe and secure exhibition and conference”. It added: “We are fully supportive of staging the event this summer at Farnborough International on the basis of the roadmap targets being met. The safety and well-being of all attendees is paramount and we are committed to delivering the event within the parameters of the restrictions within the roadmap announced last week.”