Suspension for absent transport manager

A West Midlands haulier has escaped having its licence revoked after a public inquiry revealed it had been operating without a transport manager for at least four years.

TC Nick Denton said it was only because the level of drivers’ hours offences racked up at Silver Knight Haulage and Machineries was relatively low that meant he wasn’t putting it out of business. However, the TC suspended the Walsall operator’s licence for 28 days and curtailed the licence to two HGVs indefinitely.

A Birmingham PI heard that nominated transport manager Christopher Stanford had not been involved with the business since 2016 or 2017, despite continuing to receive a monthly fee of £100. Since that time, no drivers’ hours analysis was taking place and director David Asbury – who was also an HGV driver – had made two false manual entries and had failed to take the required weekly rest on two occasions. A DVSA report also found that neither the director nor the transport manager had any understanding of the working time rules.

Asbury told Denton that Stanford was his brother-in-law and had agreed to carry out the role for a token sum. However, Asbury hadn’t appreciated how pivotal the job of transport manager was and he now intended to appoint a new one.

Summing up, Denton said Stanford had lost his repute and disqualified him for three years. “I considered long and hard whether to revoke this licence which, as stated above, has in practice lacked professional competence for at least four years,” he added. “The company is very much on probation.”

Haulier traded for over a decade without transport manager

A traffic commissioner has expressed her astonishment that a company managed to operate under the radar for over a decade without a transport manager. Ashford-based sole trader Ruth Hayes was called to a public inquiry after evidence emerged that she was running her business, which held an O-licence for three HGVs and three trailers, without a transport manager.

Hayes attempted to surrender the licence prior to the PI, but TC Sarah Bell refused the request on the basis that it would “represent a possible manipulation of the operator licensing regime.”

The operator was granted a licence in 2005 with Russell Waghorn listed as the transport manager. However, Waghorn told the TC that he had never been Hayes’ transport manager, but he had undertaken the role for Andrew Barnden - an operator with connections to Hayes - for a few weeks.

Bell said that ever since Hayes was granted the licence, there had never been any correspondence to the office of the TC indicating Waghorn was no longer transport manager. Renewal checklists and questionnaires sent out to the operator over the years all show that Waghorn remained in the role. Hayes said that the transport manager had been on an annual retainer to keep the licence valid, but as there had not been any work there had been no need to contact him for a considerable amount of time. However, the TC said the operator licence records did not back this up and that Barnden appeared to have sole control over the VOL record:

“On the face of the evidence before me not only has there been ongoing vehicle operations, but on balance the operator appears to be Mr Barnden and not Ms Hayes,” the TC said. “It is an offence to ‘lend’ an operator’s licence because they are not transferrable. Further Mr Barnden’s own application for a licence was refused.”

In her written decision, Bell said the chronology of events made for hard reading and that it was “extraordinary” the situation had continued for so long: “This case is an excellent example of what happens when individual transport managers fail to separately notify when they cease to be engaged with a particular operator,” she added. The TC said she did not trust Hayes, Barnden or Waghorn and that the good repute of Hayes had been lost and Waghorn’s was not preserved.

The licence was revoked.