Restricted operators must demonstrate their limitations

O-licence

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.”

Compliance failures end in licence revocation

A Surrey operator who attempted to mislead the DVSA and a traffic commissioner into believing he had ceased trading and was only using lorries for his own purposes, has had his licence revoked.

Deputy TC John Baker said he had considered disqualifying William Creasy, who traded out of Godstone, but decided not to after taking into account his 24 years as an operator licence holder.

A maintenance investigation into Creasy’s firm was carried out after an incident in which one of his vehicles was issued with a prohibition for a loose wheel nut.

It was also noted that the lorry had no MOT and a fixed penalty was issued to him for failing to use a tachograph card or chart.

The subsequent investigation revealed “a complete absence of systems for driver’s walk round checks, no preventative maintenance inspection records and confusion over the number of vehicles authorised” on the licence.

Creasy claimed he had ceased trading 16 months earlier and that he only used the vehicles for his farm and stables.

However, further checks found three of his HGVs were registered by ANPR cameras on 38 different dates between January and April 2020.

At an Eastbourne PI, Creasy told DTC Baker that although he had done “a lot wrong”, he always maintained his vehicles to a good standard.

After further questioning, he admitted he had carried out work for other people.

In a written decision, the DTC said Creasy had failed to observe the rules relating to vehicle inspections and drivers’ hours for a considerable amount of time:

“Whilst I accept that he may have maintained his vehicles to an acceptable standard most of the time this is insufficient for compliance to be demonstrated in a modern regulatory regime,” the DTC said.

“In addition, he attempted to mislead the DVSA officer and me into believing that his vehicles had not been used for anything but his own business purposes for a considerable period.”

DTC Baker said that the gap between what Creasy demonstrated in compliance terms and what is required was “extreme” and so he had to revoke his licence:

“As Mr Creasy is the transport manager, I also find that he has lost his repute in this regard,” he added.