Jeans importer stripped of O-licence for array of compliance failings
A West Midlands jeans importer that ran its own haulage operation has had its O-licence revoked after it was found to be operating with self-confessed non-compliance.
A public inquiry (PI) in Birmingham heard that a Cosmic Jeans vehicle that was halted in a roadside check in October last year was not a vehicle on the licence, was overloaded, and was being driven by a driver without the CPC.
Another vehicle stopped two months later was driven by the same driver, still without a CPC and again overloaded. The last download from the tachograph had taken place more than a year earlier, when the vehicle was run by a previous operator.
At a subsequent visit to the operator in February this year, a DVSA inspector found that a director of the company, Inderjot Atwal, had no knowledge of drivers’ hours or tachograph requirements.
When called to the PI the company did not challenge the DVSA report. Solicitor Simon Clarke accepted that the operator was non-compliant and that there had been a “high degree of inertia” in making the necessary improvements after the stops last year.
Mr Clarke added that this was a classic case of a restricted operator whose focus was on the main part of its business – importing and delivering jeans – rather than operating HGVs.
TC Nick Denton said in his written decision: “It is clear that the operator has entirely failed to understand even the most basic requirements and responsibilities relating to HGV operations and licensing. Even after the stops of October and December 2017 had revealed a host of offences and areas of non-compliance, the operator took little action to improve its monitoring of driver entitlement and drivers’ hours.”
Denton noted that a driver had driven for an extended period without a CPC, that three vehicles were being operated despite only one being on the licence and that even on the day of the inquiry, the operator did not appear able to analyse tachographs effectively.
Denton characterised the failure of the Atwals to take action even after the roadside stops as “extended lethargy”.
The TC added: “Because of its complete failure to inform itself of the requirements of HGV operation at the start of its licence, and the continuation of that failure until the call-up letter to the inquiry was received, the company deserves to go out of business. In fact, because it will be able to deliver jeans in 3.5 tonne vans (albeit at greater trouble and greater cost), it is possible that it may continue. But going out of business would be an entirely merited outcome."
Denton said he had stopped short of disqualifying the directors, Inderjot and Chanjit Atwal from holding an O-licence in future because their failures “stemmed more from ignorance, incompetence and inertia than an deliberate intent to deceive”.
But he said: “Any future application involving either director or the company Cosmic Jeans will, to stand any chance of success, need to be accompanied by evidence of substantial training, ongoing professional assistance and a substantial change in the culture of the directors and the company which has seen compliance with the law relegated to such a low priority on their list. It will not be a matter of simply submitting a new application: these matters will have to be put in place before any application is made and will need to be rigorously tested at a public inquiry.”
Eight applications and decisions that caught our eye this week - 25 May
Eight applications and decisions which caught our eye this week, including George Walker Transport and P&H Contract Services.
Keri Jones Haulage has applied to increase authorisation at its operating centre at Dulais Stores, Llandwrda, to three vehicles and three trailers.
An application to increase its authorisation to 60 vehicles and 100 trailers at its existing operating centre on Howley Park Industrial Estate, Leeds, has been made by George Walker Transport.
P&H Contract Services has asked to open a new operating centre at White Rose Way, Follingsby Park, Gateshead, with authorisation for 20 vehicles and four trailers.
JM Holling has applied to open a new operating centre on Coulman Road, Doncaster with authorisation for 25 vehicles and 20 trailers.
MMA Transport has been granted a standard national licence to operate 16 vehicles and 16 trailers from an operating centre at the Old Council Yard, Ings Road, Wombwell, Barnsley.
Kings Lynn-based James Kitchen & Partners has applied for a standard national licence for two vehicles and six trailers to operate from Quaker Farm, High Road, Tilney cum Islington, King’s Lynn.
1 Logistics Nationwide has applied for a standard national licence to operate 50 vehicles and 50 trailers from Charlton Mead Lane, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
Northampton-based Lindstrom has applied for a standard national licence for five vehicles to operate from Spring Copse Business Park, Stane Street, Slinfold, Horsham.