Suspicions aroused over scaffolder’s licence application

ANPR camera motorway

Two connected Scottish firms have had their applications for restricted licences refused after the traffic commissioner found there was evidence of unlawful operation.

Scaff Solutions had applied for a licence for two vehicles, but before a decision was made two of its lorries were stopped and found to be already undertaking work. Less than three weeks after a DVSA interview with its director, Paul Tait, an application for three vehicles was then received from a company called Scaff Solutions West. Its director was named as Lee McIver – Scaff Solutions’ office manager.

At a conjoined public inquiry, Tait declined to answer any questions about unlawful operating on legal advice, but national ANPR camera evidence showed that his firm used HGVs on public roads 49 times without an O-licence.

McIver told deputy TC Hugh Olson he had deliberately chosen the name Scaff Solutions West so that work could be channelled from Scaff Solutions, but he denied setting up the business to enable Tait to keep his going. The DTC said Scaff Solutions had been breaking the law and that it was unfit to hold a licence.

In his written decision, he also said he didn’t find McIver’s evidence convincing and that the timing of Scaff Solutions West’s incorporation and licence application were suspicious: “The applicant has not satisfied me that its application is not a device to get round the problems that Scaff Solutions faced in obtaining its own restricted licence,” he said.

Licence curtailed for transport manager failings

A Neasden operator has had its licence cut by almost a third for a month after “system deficiencies” were not resolved following a DVSA site visit.

JA Rattigan & Son appeared before deputy traffic commissioner John Baker via a video hearing following a visit by a traffic examiner, which uncovered “a variety of failings in relation to the monitoring and recording of drivers’ hours”. The visit had been prompted by the firm, which holds a licence authorising 16 lorries, appearing at Guildford Magistrates’ Court and being fined £5,600 for failing to pay the HGV levy for one of its vehicles. Its driver had also been keeping a log of his activity under ‘domestic hours’ but those logs had not been checked and signed by a competent person.

JA Rattigan’s sole director John Rattigan and his transport manager son, also called John, said they had been relying on a former employee to undertake the transport manager function, even though he had not been appointed to undertake that role. Rattigan jnr accepted he should have been more diligent and not relied on another employee to carry out the transport manager function. He said his attention had been diverted to the plant section of the business and he had assumed that the transport side was being managed effectively.

In his written decision, DTC Baker said it was particularly concerning that the negative features identified by the traffic examiner were present despite the chances given to the firm at two previous public inquiries it had attended. However, he also accepted that the operator was making improvements and had employed a new transport manager, Noel Finn, which he described as “a very significant factor”. “If he had not been recruited, I would have struggled to find that the future compliance is likely,” he said. “I also accept that the failings were mainly ‘system deficiencies’ and there does not appear to have been any failings which directly compromised road safety or fair competition.”

Nevertheless, the DTC said the case fell into the ‘serious’ category and he therefore cut the licence to 10 HGVs for one month: “The operator is warned that any further inquiries are likely to result in more serious action including possible revocation,” he added.