Haulier traded for over a decade without transport manager

A traffic commissioner has expressed her astonishment that a company managed to operate under the radar for over a decade without a transport manager. Ashford-based sole trader Ruth Hayes was called to a public inquiry after evidence emerged that she was running her business, which held an O-licence for three HGVs and three trailers, without a transport manager.

Hayes attempted to surrender the licence prior to the PI, but TC Sarah Bell refused the request on the basis that it would “represent a possible manipulation of the operator licensing regime.”

The operator was granted a licence in 2005 with Russell Waghorn listed as the transport manager. However, Waghorn told the TC that he had never been Hayes’ transport manager, but he had undertaken the role for Andrew Barnden - an operator with connections to Hayes - for a few weeks.

Bell said that ever since Hayes was granted the licence, there had never been any correspondence to the office of the TC indicating Waghorn was no longer transport manager. Renewal checklists and questionnaires sent out to the operator over the years all show that Waghorn remained in the role. Hayes said that the transport manager had been on an annual retainer to keep the licence valid, but as there had not been any work there had been no need to contact him for a considerable amount of time. However, the TC said the operator licence records did not back this up and that Barnden appeared to have sole control over the VOL record:

“On the face of the evidence before me not only has there been ongoing vehicle operations, but on balance the operator appears to be Mr Barnden and not Ms Hayes,” the TC said. “It is an offence to ‘lend’ an operator’s licence because they are not transferrable. Further Mr Barnden’s own application for a licence was refused.”

In her written decision, Bell said the chronology of events made for hard reading and that it was “extraordinary” the situation had continued for so long: “This case is an excellent example of what happens when individual transport managers fail to separately notify when they cease to be engaged with a particular operator,” she added. The TC said she did not trust Hayes, Barnden or Waghorn and that the good repute of Hayes had been lost and Waghorn’s was not preserved.

The licence was revoked.

Application for return of seized vehicle refused

impound clamp

An application to the traffic commissioner for the return of a vehicle by a company whose licence was revoked has been refused after it was found it was being operated unlawfully.

A three-axle Iveco pulling a semi-trailer laden with a container was escorted into a DVSA enforcement site near Abingdon earlier this year, before it was revealed that the driver was working for RFS Hire.

This haulier had its licence revoked in 2020 and director Roger Fowler disqualified after a TC described the state of its fleet as “appalling” (CM 8 July). The Iveco was detained and Fowler later applied for its return, claiming that he had no idea it was being used unlawfully.

In his application, Fowler stated he had already sold it for export to Gambia. “The vehicle should have been returning to Bristol unit only but the agents gave the driver the wrong detail and sent him on a job he shouldn’t have been doing,” he said.

But western traffic area TC Kevin Rooney said he was satisfied the papers had been properly served. “The driver was clear that he was working for RFS Hire Ltd,” he said. “There were delivery notes in the name of RFS Hire Ltd. The vehicle was being used unlawfully and DVSA had every right to detain it. The application is refused.”