Licence cut after ninth regulatory intervention
An operator who was given “so many chances” to improve its compliance has now had its licence authorisation more than halved.
South East deputy traffic commissioner John Baker said most members of the public and other operators would think it “extraordinary” that there had been nine regulatory interventions since Elliott Environmental was granted its licence in 2005.
In October 2019, one of the Dartford firm’s vehicles was checked and found to have a loose wheel nut and an under inflated tyre and so it was issued with an ‘S’ marked prohibition.
A follow-up maintenance investigation by the DVSA was then conducted and the outcome was found to be unsatisfactory.
Two further prohibitions were discovered; one of the company’s vehicles had no PMI records; there appeared to be no effective disciplinary system in place and there were incomplete driver defect reporting records.
At an Eastbourne PI, Elliott Environmental sole director Stuart Hendrick explained that the missing PMI sheets related to a vehicle that had been sold and they had now been forwarded.
He said that his fleet all worked on building and waste disposal sites where the terrain was mainly hardcore or rubble and his drivers were not permitted to inspect their vehicles before going back on to the highway.
Hendrick added that it was a “never ending task” to remind drivers of the need to check their trucks and a lot of his problems came down to complacency on their part.
The DTC said the lack of effective drivers’ walk round checks was resulting in the high number of faults showing up at the maintenance inspections:
“All the negative factors have to be put in the context of this being the ninth regulatory intervention since the licence was granted,” he said.
“I believe to most members of the public and other operators it would appear extraordinary that so many chances for improvement have already been given.
“So many chances have been given and sufficient improvement has not been made.”
DTC Baker found that the operator’s repute had been severely tarnished and he cut the licence authorisation from five vehicles to two.
Acknowledging that Hendrick was also the holder of a sole trader licence, the DTC made a direction that he could not transfer the curtailed vehicles to that licence for six months.
Restricted operators must demonstrate their limitations
Restricted licence holders should review their operations and ensure they are complying with the rules, following a spate of PIs in which traffic commissioners took firms to task.
A restricted licence only allows you to carry your own goods on your own account, for your own purposes.
You do not have to satisfy the requirement of professional competence to obtain a restricted licence and the rates of financial standing are less.
Scott Bell, solicitor at Backhouse Jones, said he thought TCs were increasingly focusing their attention on this type of licence holder.
He said: “The big question is that the transport element must be no more than ancillary to the overall operation of your business.
“And this is where we are finding people getting caught out.
“I have had a number of incidences during lockdown of restricted HGV operators being asked this question by TCs.
“It’s predominantly the case where you are in waste and you are not doing anything with that waste.”
Bell explained: “If you are picking up the waste from point ‘A’ and taking it to point ‘B’ for disposal, you may have some problems operating under a restricted licence, because it looks like hire and reward work.”
Bell advised concerned operators to review their position: “If you are a skip wagon business, for example, it might be the case that to fall within the exemption you have to have a waste processing licence; you bring the skip back to your operating centre or waste transfer centre and sort the waste into different skips.”