Suffolk firm’s licence trimmed after significant failures

HMRC

An Ipswich transport firm had its licence curtailed for four weeks after a traffic commissioner heard about a large number of historic drivers’ offences and occasions when driver cards were not used.

TBF Scaffolding had wanted to increase its authorisation from 10 HGVs to 15, but Eastern traffic area TC Richard Turfitt said the application could not proceed after a Cambridge public inquiry analysed significant failures.

A traffic examiner request for documents following the issuing of a fixed penalty notice revealed occasions when two of its lorries were being driven without cards inserted.

The operator’s arrangements for drivers’ hours was also found to be unsatisfactory and although systems appeared to be in place, one vehicle had been driven 71 times without a card inserted.

Failings in reporting systems were also identified.

Following a Cambridge PI, TC Turfitt said it was particularly concerning that the DVSA investigation was left to the workforce manager and none of the company’s directors engaged with it.

However, he also noted that the call to PI had prompted an internal investigation even during the restrictions arising from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There has been an acceptance of failures in the governance arrangements with too much reliance on reactive reporting rather than proactive monitoring which the board employs across other areas of regulatory performance,” he said.

“I accept the operator’s admission that it had ‘failed to live up to the commitments undertaken when the company was granted an operator’s licence.’”

Turfitt also said that he accepted records were now being kept, brake tests were being carried out and all results recorded and tacho and WTD hours’ checks were being conducted every week.

He said he believed he could trust the operator to comply in the future, but he added: “There is a need for deterrent action so that improvements are sustained.

“The application cannot proceed at this time and will need to be renewed.

“Representations indicate that the current 10 vehicle authorisation could be reduced to no less than eight vehicles but that will create some difficulty.

“Having assessed this case as falling within the starting point of ‘moderate’, I make that direction but for a period of four weeks only."

Aurelius buys Pullman Fleet Services

Investment group Aurelius Equity Opportunities has agreed to buy Pullman Fleet Services from Wincanton, its second deal within the transport sector in two weeks.

Fleet management and maintenance provider Pullman Fleet Services is the UK’s largest independent service supplier with 27 service centres and more than 70 mobile service vehicles. Last year, Pullman reported revenues of £44m thanks to its range of services for HGV and LCV fleet management outsourcing and repair and maintenance. The new acquisition will complement Aurelius’ other fleet maintenance provider, Rivus Fleet Solutions, formerly BT Fleet Solutions, which caters for light commercial vehicles.

Aurelius says it hopes to capitalise on the Doncaster-based firm’s position as the only multi-marque operator of scale for HGVs in the UK with 35 years of experience in the sector.

Pullman has a range of blue-chip customers spanning retail, logistics, industrial and service sectors and will continue in partnership with Wincanton as its preferred supplier for fleet management, repairs and maintenance following completion of the deal.

Dr Dirk Markus, CEO of Aurelius, said: “I am delighted Pullman Fleet Services is joining our portfolio, shortly after we agreed to acquire GKN Wheels & Structures from GKN. Aurelius will empower Pullman to capitalise on the strong market growth potential and develop an expanded service offering, for example in leasing and accident management in the months ahead, alongside our portfolio company Rivus Fleet Solutions.

"Despite the significant uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic, this transaction demonstrates our confidence in the strong position of Aurelius, our ability to transact through downturns, and build a portfolio of companies that will grow and thrive across multiple sectors throughout Europe.”