Tachograph card misuse leads to loss of licence

A haulier’s O-licence has been revoked and its director disqualified after a driver used his employer’s tachograph card to drive for a “truly shocking” period.

A public inquiry (PI) into Sahota Transport Services was called after a traffic examiner stopped one of its vehicles and found the driver’s tachograph card photograph did not resemble the driver.

Despite a claim by the driver he was Daljit Singh Sahota, as shown on the card, the examiner followed up the roadside stop with a site visit in July 2018. He met with Sahota, who was the company’s director and transport manager, who insisted he had been the driver.

The interview was then suspended on advice from Sahota’s solicitor. Six weeks later the solicitor contacted the traffic examiner to say the driver had in fact been Amrinder Singh Mann.

Subsequent analysis of the card showed that by using it in conjunction with Sahota’s card, Mann had exceeded the maximum permitted daily driving time by 44 minutes and the maximum permitted duty time by more than seven hours. Mann had then taken a daily rest period of just three and a half hours – instead of the legal minimum of nine hours. On another occasion, the driver had exceeded the maximum permitted daily driving time by three hours and 
46 minutes.

At a PI in Birmingham, the traffic examiner said his roadside interview of Mann was punctuated by pauses while the driver was on the phone, as though he was being fed the answers.

For the company, Philip Brown accepted that Mann had driven “considerably in excess of his maximum permitted hours” by driving for 23 hours and then starting work three and a half hours later, but that it was a one-off incident and Mann had mistakenly used Sahota’s card, which had been left in the truck.

However, in a written decision, traffic commissioner Nick Denton said he found it “inconceivable” the events as described to him had taken place. He said Sahota had deliberately tried to perpetuate the falsehood that it was he who had been driving and he could no longer trust the operator or transport manager to operate compliantly.

As a result, Sahota lost his good repute and was disqualified for five years, while the company’s licence was revoked.

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Illegal waste site 'size of three football pitches'

A waste site operator has been given a suspended prison sentence after operating illegally for more than two-and-a-half years. In a case brought by the Environment Agency, Worcester Crown Court heard that Barry Connally, director of Rhino Recycling, ran a site in Pershore without the necessary environmental permit.

Making the site compliant would have cost about £450,000, plus more than £17,000 in fees to the agency. After the company was dissolved, the cost of clearing the abandoned site – which was approximately the size of three football pitches – was in excess of £100,000. An investigation estimated that nearly 9,000 tonnes of waste were being stored illegally. Receipts showed that between April 2013 and August 2015, the company had invoiced more than £338,000 for the waste it had received and sold. Experts said the site posed a fire risk and that without proper drainage, water used to tackle any fire would have entered the local watercourse through highway drains.

Connally was sentenced to 12 months’ custody, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work in the community.

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