Licence curtailment after fitness “severely tarnished”
An Essex operator has had two HGVs cut from its licence after the traffic commissioner expressed concerns at its lack of compliance regarding drivers’ hours management, defect reporting and maintenance. Thurrock Scaffolding Services appeared before TC Richard Turfitt via a video link after failing to provide financial evidence within a given deadline.
The firm, which operated six HGVs, then contacted the Office of the TC and said the pandemic’s impact had affected operations, but the statements it then provided still did not meet the required sum. Further paperwork submitted prior to the PI revealed preventative maintenance failings, no driver defect reports and examples of drivers’ hours infringement reporting, as well as a string of WTD infringements from one driver.
In evidence, director Joe Giggins said he had experienced serious health issues during the relevant period and all the pressures had been placed on co-director Ryan Johnson. Johnson admitted he had not paid proper attention to compliance of the licence requirements, but that both of them were adamant in their need for training and instruction.
In his written decision, the TC said the operator’s approach to the PI had been “fairly dismal”, but acknowledged it was a first appearance. Various undertakings were offered by the operator for prompt remedial action, which included training and audits and Turfitt said if these actions were completed then compliance could be achieved. However, he also pointed out that fitness had been severely tarnished and deterrent action was needed and so he curtailed the licence to four lorries.
Operator disqualified for evading licence requirements
A director who failed to disclose he had a conviction for conspiracy to supply cocaine and who then committed various driver offences and compliance failings, has been disqualified. Gary Ewen, who ran Eye-based Eagle Haulage, “blatantly undermined” trust in the licensing regime according to Eastern area traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt.
Concerns about the haulier arose when one of its lorries was stopped twice and the driver was found to have been removing his card from the tachograph. The director himself was also found to have been driving without his driver’s card inserted; on one occasion for more than two hours. A third driver for Eagle Haulage was pulled over by the DVSA and he was found to have been driving without his CPC qualification card and his professional driver’s entitlement had expired in 2017.
Turfitt said that while preparing paperwork for the subsequent PI, a local newspaper story was unearthed containing reference to the conviction of 17 people for drugs and money laundering offences. The report referred to Ewen and a haulage business, Gary Ewen Haulers, which shipped cocaine into the UK from the continent. Ewen was charged and given an eight-year prison sentence.
At the PI, Ewen admitted he had been convicted and he had failed to notify the Office of the TC when he became a director in 2016, because he thought it was the responsibility of the transport manager to make the notification. It was further noted that the transport manager and director, Lee Argus, was removed from the licence in September 2020 and a replacement had still not been appointed. Ewen also admitted he could not demonstrate financial standing and in his written decision, the TC said there was little positive evidence to weigh into the balance:
“I was satisfied that the evidence showed deliberate acts by Mr Ewen to circumvent the requirements on drivers and the operator but these were not just limited to him,” said Turfitt. “There was evidence of ineffective management of the compliance systems and no evidence of any change was produced at the public inquiry. This placed the case in the ‘severe’ starting point for regulatory intervention.” Turfitt revoked the operator’s licence and disqualified Ewen for three years.