‘Overwhelming’ evidence of fronting results in disqualification

O-licence

A waste operator has had its licence revoked and its director disqualified for four years after a traffic commissioner found that it had been acting as a front for another company that had lost its O-licence.

London and South East TC Sarah Bell said the evidence before her “overwhelmingly supports the conclusion” that director John O’Rourke lent his licence for Malbay Waste Disposal to director Roy Goodman and/or Quick Skips London Recycling.

At an Eastbourne public inquiry, called due to concerns raised by the Environment Agency and the Metropolitan police, the director claimed he was paying for wages, fuel and vehicle hire at Malbay and therefore fronting was not taking place.

Sole trader Goodman had lost his O-licence in May 2019 and his limited business Quick Skips surrendered its O-licence in September 2018 and yet when Malbay’s drivers were stopped by police in May, June and July this year they claimed to be working for Goodman and Quick Skips.

O’Rourke’s solicitor told the TC his client was “honest and unsophisticated” and had simply taken his eye off the ball, but in a written decision TC Bell disagreed, saying that the director spent most of the time trying not to get caught out:

“Mr O’Rourke’s evidence was punctuated by long silences when considering the most straightforward questions,” she said.

“On the evidence before me, he simply cannot be trusted.

“It should be noted that professional drivers’ vocational entitlements have been put in jeopardy by the conduct of Mr Goodman and Mr O’Rourke.

“There are three separate police prosecution referrals for no insurance, two to the same driver.”

She added: “It follows that I formally find there has been ‘fronting’ in its truest sense.

“I had removed Roy Goodman from the O-licensing regime from 3 May 2019 for good reason – unlawful operation and an unacceptable maintenance regime.

“Mr O’Rourke permitted that unlawful operation to continue virtually uninterrupted.

“Disqualification is necessary to deter those foolish enough to work in ways that prevent transparent regulation. Accordingly, I disqualify Malbay and Mr O’Rourke for a period commensurate with their wrongdoing.

“Fronting itself and the inherent risks caused by it are serious but the self-serving approach by Mr O’Rourke to his evidence at the hearing is an aggravating feature.”

Mercedes-Benz safety tech on Actros impresses Calor

Calor Actros

Calor has taken delivery of 20 new Euro-6 step D Mercedes-Benz Actros 2446 tractor units, after being impressed by the German manufacturer’s Active Brake Assist 4 safety technology.

Alan Harrison, Calor’s national vehicle engineering manager, oversaw a demonstration of the safety system at Mercedes’ Wentworth Park site.

“Seeing the system in action and the speed with which it can bring a truck safely to a halt with no driver input, was a real eye-opener. Safety was a crucial consideration when we sat down to evaluate the bids we’d received, and its leadership in the field was instrumental in enabling Mercedes-Benz to win our business,” explained Harrison.

Calor opted for 17.5in wheel mid-lift axles, which have a 300kg payload advantage over full-sized mid-lift Actros axles. Harrison said: “Given that the trend in recent years has been for trucks to become heavier as they are loaded with more technology, this is a very impressive figure, and one that will increase payload potential.”

They have been specified with 2.3m wide ClassicSpace cabs, which contribute towards Calor’s efforts to ensure that its new trucks are no heavier than their Euro-5 predecessors.

Spread across nine of the firm’s depots, the trucks have been well received by Calor’s drivers, as confirmed by Immingham site manager Andy Allan. “They’re enthusiastic about the truck’s pulling power and its very comfortable cab, while the fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control is exceptionally user-friendly.” 

Calor will also add 10 26-tonne Antos 2535 rigids with Lakeland Tankers bodywork to its 200-strong rigid tanker fleet. They will be used to deliver LPG and BioLPG to domestic and commercial customers.  All have been supplied by Ciceley Commercials, and have five-year ExtendPlus warranties.