Openness about mistakes fails to save Northants haulier

The international licence of a Northampton haulier has been revoked after it failed to manage its maintenance effectively and created a road safety risk.

The appearance of Welland Autos Vehicle Movers (WAVM) at a Cambridge public inquiry was prompted by one of its vehicles attracting an immediate S-marked prohibition notice, after a traffic examiner found that six of six wheel nuts were loose. A subsequent investigation into the firm revealed that the haulier had no wheel nut or fixing torque log kept for any of its vehicles. It also found that there was no VOR system in place; no vehicle first use inspections; gaps in inspections and no effective maintenance contract in place. In response, David Argo, WAVM transport manager, told the DVSA he was working through the recommendations “and rectifying my mistakes”.

But in a written decision following the PI, TC Richard Turfitt said there were still gaps in inspections, an absence of record keeping and no evidence of brake tests.

The TC said: “It became clear that, even if the contractor had generated brake test print outs neither the director [Alan Pitkeathly] nor transport manager would have the knowledge to read them. On their own admission, neither of them is sufficiently up to date with current standards. Mr Argo was very frank in admitting that he had not moved quickly enough to address the concerns expressed by the DVSA examiners. By their own admission they have been too slow to react and they do not obviously possess the level of knowledge to achieve even the basic standards required under the operator’s licence.”

Turfitt added: “The failings still evident at the public inquiry result not from malintent but from being out of date and slow to respond. Mr Pitkeathly does not enjoy being the director and has, in any event, been content for Mr Argo to assume many of those responsibilities.”

As a result, the TC found that Argo had lost his repute and disqualified him from relying on his CPC until he attended a two-day refresher course. He said the openness displayed at the PI meant he would not disqualify the director, but he found that the operator had lost its repute and he revoked the licence.

Application fails for insufficient documentation

WhatsApp

An application to operate one vehicle and two trailers out of a base in Leicester has been refused by the traffic commissioner – even after he gave the applicant “considerable assistance”.

Stonelodge Farm applied for the restricted licence with Carl Foster named as director; however, it was noted that he had been involved with other businesses where the licences had been revoked. The first was in 2012 when the company, Stonelodge Industries, had entered liquidation. It had also operated as Stonelodge Farm, before this licence was revoked in 2017 following concerns about good repute and professional competence. TC Richard Turfitt therefore requested that the operator appear at a hearing to discuss its latest application.

Foster failed to provide original finance-related documentation and appeared not to have read the current Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness document. He said he intended to rely on WhatsApp so that drivers could message the maintenance supplier about vehicle parts that needed ordering, but the TC said this did not meet the requirements for record keeping of driver detected defects.

In his written decision, Turfitt said he delayed his decision to enable the operator to provide more paperwork that would aid the application, such as maintenance arrangements; financial evidence; driver defect reporting book examples and proof of training. However, even with this extra time, the TC was not satisfied with the information Foster provided. “It remains the case that I cannot be satisfied and I am obliged to refuse the application on that basis, despite having given the applicant considerable assistance,” he said.