Second PI spells the end for Kent operator

An operator that appeared at two public inquiries in two years has now had its licence revoked after a deputy traffic commissioner found its compliance levels never reached the required standard.

Kent Traction Services director Grace Shilling and transport manager Belinda Bell appeared before deputy TC John Baker at an Eastbourne PI after it failed to respond to DVSA questions as part of a desk based assessment. The company had previously appeared at a PI in 2018 following a high number of prohibitions being issued to its four fleet vehicles and its licence was suspended for almost two months.

At the latest PI, a senior traffic examiner told the DTC that the operator had finally sent additional information prior to the inquiry, but it was sporadic and raised more questions than answers. The available data showed that there were 44 occasions when the company’s vehicles were driven without cards, ranging in time between four minutes and five hours. There had also been mode switch offences; driving times had been exceeded and working time breaches had also occurred.

Bell told DTC Baker that problems had occurred when her husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and then later died from Covid-19. In his written decision, Baker said he had genuine sympathy for the transport manager and these tragic circumstances and it explained the lack of response to the DVSA and recent compliance failings. But he also said: “Unfortunately, this factor highlights for me a further concern. The responsibility for ensuring compliance rest jointly with the director and the transport manager. This basic principle is endorsed by the fact that the traffic commissioner required training to be undertaken by Miss Shilling as well as Mrs Bell after the public inquiry in 2018.

“The distinct impression I got, and conclusion I have reached, is that Miss Shilling has delegated responsibility fully to Mrs Bell and when she was unable to undertake her duties very little happened.”

Baker said he struggled to find many positives in the case: “There is no evidence to show that the compliance levels have been at the standard required since the licence was granted,” he added. “I invited Mrs Bell to identify a time when compliance had been up to standard and she struggled to do so. I conclude that the seriousness level in this case is serious to severe.”

Lies prompt collapse of scaffolding firm

A Kent scaffolding firm whose operator lied to a deputy traffic commissioner about the use of one of its lorries has had its licence revoked. A1 Scaffolding, which traded out of an operating centre in Sandwich, appeared before deputy TC John Baker following an investigation that uncovered various failings.

The investigation was prompted by the operator’s application to increase the number of authorised vehicles, but the DVSA’s subsequent report found a lack of PMI records and inadequate driver daily walk round systems; a lack of systems for downloading driver or vehicle unit records; no disciplinary procedures and a failure by drivers to use their cards.

One vehicle was not specified on the operator’s licence until 10 months later and when this was queried at the PI, A1 Scaffolding director Farzad Takalobighashi claimed this was because it had been in the possession of a person called Kenny Coles who wanted to buy it.

It was only after DTC Baker reminded the director that it was better to be honest and tell the truth that Takalobighashi changed his story and admitted he had been using the vehicle during the whole period it had not been specified on the licence.

In a written decision, the DTC said he could not trust the operator and, as well as the revocation, he also disqualified the director for a year.