Case of the invisible transport manager
Richard Dale appeared before North West traffic commissioner (TC) Simon Evans, along with NPH Haulage director Nina Hatcher, after concerns were raised about the transport manager’s involvement in the Preston-based company.
A public inquiry (PI) heard how Dale became nominated transport manager after Hatcher obtained the company licence following the death of sole trader and transport manager, Andrew Hodkinson, in a road traffic accident.
However, the reality was that Dale, who was based in Malton, never visited NPH Haulage, was never paid for the role and played no part in the oversight of the firm’s two HGVs and two trailers.
Hatcher admitted she had taken primary responsibility for the vehicles and had planned to be the transport manager herself, but had failed the case study part of the exam.
She had been unable to take a resit due to having responsibilities towards her nine-year-old son and also driving.
The TC factored in the personal and tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Hodkinson, but said Hatcher’s and Dale’s actions had raised “very significant issues of trust”.
He said: “Such findings are compounded by the false statements made in the TM1 form and that this arrangement was a charade right from the beginning. TC Evans found that the operator had lost its repute and revoked its licence.
“I step back from exercising my powers to disqualify either the company or Ms Hatcher, this despite my finding the company’s repute has been lost, as an act of mercy and in reflection of the circumstances that underlie the appalling decision-making of the protagonists.”
He added Dale had lost his repute for continuing an arrangement he knew “to be a sham”.
“Mr Dale says he is looking to retire,” the TC concluded. “I therefore disqualify him from holding office as a transport manager indefinitely on my finding that he has manifestly forfeited his repute.”
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