Haulage boss jailed, and disqualified indefinitely

A deputy traffic commissioner has ordered that the owner of a haulage firm whose vehicle crashed through a central reservation and killed two men should never be allowed to operate HGVs again in the UK.

DTC Mark Hinchliffe said “a message has to go out” to the industry that firms and directors who secretly or illicitly acquire and abuse operator licences will result in “firm and resolute action”.

Haulage boss Michael Holgate was jailed for 15 years for manslaughter and causing death whilst uninsured after one of his drivers lost control of a 30-tonne artic carrying a static caravan on the M62 in April 2018 and collided with a car. The HGV driver, Jack Beston, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for six years.

Holgate, plus associates Fay Andrew, Graham Holgate and David Radford, appeared before the DTC at a public inquiry in 2019, but publication of the decision was delayed until after the court case.

Hinchliffe said all of the above were now disqualified indefinitely and that if any of them are a director or hold a controlling interest in any company that holds a licence, then that company would be liable for suspension or licence revocation. In addition, Michael, Graham, David and Terence Hebden were disqualified indefinitely from acting as transport managers.

The PI head how Michael Holgate was director, transport manager and driver for several haulage firms in East Yorkshire and had connections with a string of others, including RM Group Hull, RM Leisure Homes and GHD Transport. Vehicles were registered against the licences of other operators – fronting – and there were a large number of serious issues racked up against the operators, including drivers’ hours violations, disregard for safety and maintenance and fabricated invoices.

In his judgment, DTC Hinchliffe said: “Whilst I cannot put the clock back to before 3/4/2018, I can do what I believe is necessary today to protect the public and motorists in the future, and to ensure that law-abiding operators are not unfairly defeated by competitors who disregard the laws protecting drivers and road users, and that are there to ensure a level commercial playing field.

“Great harm has already been done,” he added, “the sort of harm that an effective regulatory system is intended to prevent.”

TruckEast technician David Keeling is to retire from the Scania dealership after 50 years

David Keeling (pictured), TruckEast’s longest-serving technician retires this month, after clocking-up 50 years of dedicated service to the Suffolk-based Scania dealer.

Keeling started with what was then Scantruck in the summer of 1971, as a technician straight out of school, just one year after the Stowmarket branch had opened.

“The first six months I was buddied with a welder, I assisted with drilling the chassis, fitting headboards etc. Trucks didn’t arrive from the factory ready to go. We’d always have about a week’s worth of work on each unit and there was a lot of fabrication involved,” reminisced Keeling. “When I first started, there were still some of the Vabis 76 around. The cab didn’t even tip over so as you can imagine getting to the parts was such hard work.

“Through each generation of trucks, each cab has taken that big step forward. And that’s something for technicians to adjust to as well as operators and drivers. The advancements in the trucks are huge. Scania has always been on top of its game; I suppose you might say I’m always going to be biased towards Scania, but I really believe it,” he added.

Last week Keeling was presented with a long-service award by TruckEast MD John Biggin in an outdoor celebration.

“Fifty years of service is a truly momentous milestone for Dave to achieve and I am delighted to present him with this award on behalf of TruckEast and wish him the best with his imminent retirement,” said Biggin.