Licence curtailed for communication failures

HMRC

A traffic commissioner said he had been misled after a Felixstowe haulier failed to notify him it had changed its operating centre and was using an unauthorised transport manager.

Eastern TC Richard Turfitt described the situation regarding Liam Molloy Transport as “a bad case” and said there was a need for deterrent action following an appearance at a Cambridge public inquiry.

As well as relying on an unauthorised operating centre at Felixstowe docks, the company had not told the TC that the listed transport manager Liam Molloy had retired due to ill health in 2019.

Instead, nominated CPC holder Ian Stuart had been acting to ensure compliance since that time.

A roadside stop of one of Liam Molloy Transport’s vehicles in December 2018 uncovered a host of issues, including that the vehicle was out of annual test, as well as four drivers’ hours offences.

The driver was also handed a fixed penalty notice for an insufficient daily rest offence.

A follow-up site visit revealed a “lamentable” test history, with an initial pass rate of 33.33% between 2015 and 2018 and a 0% pass rate from 27 July 2018.

Director Emma Stuart said she had bought the business from Molloy in October 2018 and the TC noted that there were now additional driver checks, weekly downloads and the use of RHA analysis software, but there were still too many driver detectable defects occurring without being reported.

He allowed Ian Stuart’s appointment, albeit with a warning and cut the licence by 50% from two vehicles and two trailers for one month.

“Worst of its kind” driver infringements boots haulier out of industry

Disqualified

A Scottish operator has had its licence revoked, been disqualified for 10 years and banned from driving lorries for a decade after a traffic examiner uncovered “the worst owner/driver case” she had ever seen.

George William Stobbart, trading as Willie Stobbart Haulage, was also disqualified from acting as a transport manager after the country’s traffic commissioner heard about a large number of infringements and his sustained dishonesty.

An investigation into the company began after a traffic examiner received an allegation that Stobbart was driving for longer than other drivers.

The examiner discovered that between April 2018 and February 2019, he had committed a total of 155 driving infringements.

She also identified 78 instances of Stobbart making a false record and that he had been using the ‘out of scope’ mode on his tachograph unit to extend his driving time.

The director said he used the mode only when he was putting his HGV into the garage, or the “odd night” to park it up, but the traffic examiner found evidence that 5,166km had been covered by the vehicle in the out of scope mode.

On one occasion, the director had taken a daily rest of only five hours and 44 minutes and of the total number of infringements, 60 were classified as very serious.

At an Inverness public inquiry, Stobbart’s solicitor said his client’s vehicle had a 100% MOT pass rate and it was well maintained.

In addition, he had owned up immediately to what he had done and had been courteous and cooperative.

He also pointed out that regulatory action would have a devastating effect on Stobbart and his family as he was the sole bread winner and it could result in the loss of the family home.

But TC Claire Gilmore said it was highly unlikely he would comply in the future:

“Mr Stobbart’s actions gave rise to a significant and unacceptable risk to road safety and gave him an unfair commercial advantage over other operators,” she said.

“The sheer number of infringements at issue in this case, and my findings of repeated and sustained dishonesty on the part of Mr Stobbart, lead me to conclude that this is a most serious case.

“It was the worst of its kind even seen by an experienced traffic examiner and it involves breaches of trust which go to the heart of the licensing regime.”