Revocation for operator with “only themselves to blame”

The Eastern region traffic commissioner has revoked the restricted licence of a Cambridgeshire operator after it provided “deeply troubling” responses at a public inquiry.

Partnership Spencer and Emily Smith, trading as W Smith Scrap Metals, were originally issued with their licence for four HGVs on the understanding that they lodged a compliance audit by the end of 2019.

A failure to do this, as well as a subsequent failure to provide financial evidence and maintenance records, led to the operator’s eventual appearance before TC Richard Turfitt at a PI in Cambridge. Spencer Smith admitted that he had issues with reading and writing, and preventative maintenance inspections (PMIs) were completed with the assistance of his nephew, although Emily then told the TC she was under the impression that PMIs were carried out by the DVSA. Turfitt said Spencer also appeared to be totally unaware of vehicle off-road recording and he had left vehicles specified on the licence when they were no longer used.

In a written decision, the TC said: “I have noted failures in the driver defect reporting, maintenance systems and for recording driver’s hours. Undertakings on the licence have not been complied with and preventative maintenance inspection intervals have been exceeded. I have no hesitation in making adverse findings.”

Asking himself how likely it was that the operator would in future comply with the operator licence regime, Turfitt responded saying its response at the PI had been “deeply troubling”.

He said: “The operators confirmed that there has been no additional training, no attempt to seek professional assistance, not even evidence of seeking guidance on-line through Ms Smith. They confirmed that nothing has been done since August 2020. The evidence confirms that the shortcomings have existed for much longer than that.” The TC added: “If the undertaking for an audit by close of December 2019 had been met, they might not find themselves facing action today. The circumstances cannot be blamed on Covid-19. They have only themselves to blame.”

Making a decision to revoke the licence, he said that there was nothing to indicate that the operators were fit to manage compliance, but they had been open and accepting of their deficiencies and it had been their first PI. As a result, he chose not to disqualify them both.

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