Licence cut for muckaway firm

A plant hire and muckaway operator has had its licence cut by one lorry for two weeks after relying on an unauthorised operating centre and evidence emerged of vehicle inspection failings.

Corn Plant Hire was subject to a DVSA maintenance investigation after one of its vehicles was involved in a fatal collision in November 2019. The vehicle examiner found that the operator and sole director Patrick Lavin could not demonstrate up to date knowledge of O-licence requirements; there was no evidence of brake performance assessments on some safety inspection reports and unauthorised use of an operating centre.

The company appeared before traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt at a Cambridge public inquiry and Lavin explained that it was using an unauthorised base in Bedford due to increased criminal activity at its site in Luton. Since the investigation, the director and his office manager had attended O-licence awareness training and forward planning had been overhauled, with regular downloads of vehicle units and driver cards.

However, TC Turfitt also heard how a vehicle had been fitted with the wrong tyre size and the last valid annual test for one of its trailers had expired in 2017, which suggested a repeated and continuing failure to inspect vehicles to required standards. He acknowledged that the firm had made changes, but added that the case fell into the “moderate” category and curtailed the licence.

Waste criminal given three months to repay £2.1m

Environment Agency vehicles

One of the largest ever confiscation orders obtained by the Environment Agency (EA) has been imposed on a convicted waste crime offender, who ran an illegal waste haulage business.

John Bruce has been given three months to pay £2.1m following a confiscation case at Worcester Crown Court. Judge Nicholas Cole branded 48-year-old Bruce a “career criminal” and said that he would face seven years in jail if he did not pay the money. Bruce received a 26-month jail sentence in May 2018 for operating an illegal waste site at a site near Pershore in Worcestershire. He was initially prosecuted for six offences where waste totaling 25,000 cubic metres was either dumped, buried or burned at the site.

The court heard that the defendant had grown his business and he had invested in various properties, land and cars. Bruce also owned a large selection of expensive items of heavy plant, which he hired, bought and resold. Additionally, Judge Cole ruled that a trust he had set up was a sham and that the money held in a bank account operated by the trust formed part of his criminal benefit.

An EA spokesman said the case was the second largest confiscation order it had obtained nationally: “The case shows that we’re not just content to prosecute those who run illegal waste sites, we’ll also come after them to get back the profits they made from their illegal activities and to recoup taxpayers’ money spent on pursuing them,” the spokesman added.