Non-compliant removals outfit refused a licence by TC Nick Denton

A company that operated without an O-licence for more than four years and was highly non-compliant has had its application refused.

In a written decision, West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton said Cleavers Removals had operated without a licence since 2014 and had relied “in error” on a sole trader licence belonging to Cleavers Removals’ director Hardip Singh Bains.

The sole trader licence was in the name of Cleavers Removals and Storage and, following a DVSA visit in 2018, it was discovered that there had been a change of entity and vehicles were now being operated by limited company Cleavers Removals. A DVSA vehicle examiner also discovered a high MoT failure rate of 38% over the past two years and 56% over the last five. There were very few inspection records available and those that were available were not fully completed.

Transport manager David Cleaver was not available at the time of the DVSA visit and director Baljit Singh Bains told the examiner he was on holiday. This was reiterated in a letter to the DVSA from Hardip.

However, Cleaver later wrote to the DVSA saying he had sold the sole trader business 10 years ago and he was now retired.

A PI took place in September 2018 and the TC stated that if Cleavers Removals did not request a PI to consider its application by November then it would be refused.

The company made the request and at the second inquiry it was pointed out that Hardip Singh Bains had left the business, Baljit had attended an O-licence management course, he had employed a new transport manager and the company was relying on leased 3.5-tonne vehicles. HGVs had been parked up.

The TC requested further data, which showed some lorries had moved up to 1,760km.

Concluding, Denton said Baljit had been the director throughout the period it was operating without a licence, when it lacked a transport manager and when serious shortcomings in maintenance and drivers’ hours were revealed. He said Baljit had also deliberately misled the DVSA examiner and he could not be trusted. The TC found that the company was not of good repute and refused the licence application.

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"Excessive" Mick George fine is slashed on appeal

Mick George has had a £566,670 fine for breaching health and safety regulations reduced after the appeal court found it was manifestly excessive.

The company pleaded guilty to a breach of regulation 25(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 after a tipper vehicle struck an overhead power line (OPL). The driver was emptying a load of soil at a site in Northampton in 2016 when he pulled forward with the body raised and it touched, or came close to touching, the 33kV line.

The tipper vehicle suffered minor damage but the driver was unhurt.

Mick George had already identified the need for permanent protection structures, but after an initial delay only one was installed.

An HSE investigation showed that Mick George should have assessed the risks from OPLs more rigorously and realised its system of work was inadequate.

However, an appeal court hearing agreed with the appellant that the judge should have concluded that it was a harm Category 3 case, not harm Category 2 case, and that the starting point was manifestly excessive. An appeal court spokesman confirmed that as a result, the original fine was reduced to £334,000, to be paid within 12 months.

The HSE said that every year two people are killed and many more injured when mechanical plant and machinery comes into contact or close proximity with OPLs.

The firm declined to comment.

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