Licence revoked at ‘cuckoo’s nest’ haulier
Traffic Commissioner (TC) for Scotland Joan Aitken has revoked the O-licence of Livingston-based Overland Transport describing it as a “cuckoo’s nest” arrangement for disqualified haulier Firstline International.
In a written decision in June following a public inquiry in April in Edinburgh, the TC said the company had been used to circumvent her written decision in July 2015 - upheld on appeal in 2016 - to revoke the O-licence of Firstline International, as well as disqualify the company and director William Lambie snr for two years.
Overland Transport, which was incorporated in March 2016, started operating in August 2016 and immediately began using vehicles that had been operated by Firstline International. Drivers moved over to Overland Transport, the business picked up work through Firstline International contacts and the Lambie family provided funds to establish financial standing.
In her written decision Aitken found that Overland Transport director Richard Quinn was not controlling and directing the operation and had never met the company accountant. Quinn, in an instance in 2017, signed hire purchase and indemnity guarantees for a vehicle with Shawbrook Bank but the cash for the deposit was provided by the Lambie family rather than from Overland Transport or Quinn.
In her written decision, the TC said Lambie snr had benefitted financially from the Overland operation. Also a report by a vehicle examiner in December 2017 found that Overland Transport needed to carry out nine improvement actions and was not fully meeting compliance standards.
An audit discovered shortcomings regarding tachograph analysis and the business had been using Newhouse Nursery as an unauthorised operating centre on a regular basis. In addition, the company could not demonstrate evidence of financial standing for the level of authorisation - seven vehicles.
Aitken disqualified Overland Transport and its director Richard Quinn from holding an O-licence for five years describing the company as “a calculated deliberate ruse to get an operator’s licence that would be under the control of the Lambie family”. In her written decision, she said: “The outward appearance that Overland was Richard Quinn’s operation had to be maintained. The drivers knew him and were told he was their employer.
“However, he was not controlling and directing the operation; he was the one being controlled, even though he may not have realised what was going on. Mr Quinn was the placeman.” The TC disqualified former transport manager George Brown indefinitely, saying he had lost his repute as a transport manager. “It does not help me that he did not turn up nor put in any written submissions and I do take a negative inference from that,” the TC said.
She also disqualified Steven Lambie for five years, saying he had lost his repute as a transport manager. Aitken said: “This is a severe case, which requires a severe regulatory marker. I consider this to be a case where there has been a lack of candour and a manipulation of the licensing regime. This was not so much a phoenix as a cuckoo’s nest arrangement.”