TC Nick Denton calls for 'rapid abolition' of plant O-licence exemption


The traffic commissioner for the West Midlands has waded into the controversy of engineering plant remaining exempt from O-licensing, calling for its “rapid abolition”.

TC Nick Denton said the public would not understand how a 32-tonne vehicle [such as a mobile or terrain crane) could operate without a licence while other 32-tonne HGVs could not, and he demanded an end to the loophole for plant equipment.

In the TCs’ annual report, Denton cited a case involving serious negligence by an operator that led to a “horrific accident and permanent injuries to a bystander.”

He said: “Even though I revoked its operator licence and disqualified its director for eight years my concern is that it will try to carry on in business using the exemption from operator licensing enjoyed by plant vehicles.

“I have written to various companies who have sub-contracted work in the past to this operator, to draw their attention to their contractor’s lack of care for safety and to pose the question of the reputational risk the use of such a company could pose for them.

“But someone somewhere will probably be tempted still to give this company work.”

Denton added: “The general public would likely not understand how 32-tonne vehicles with cranes are somehow exempt from licensing while other 32-tonne vehicles are not.

“I look forward to the rapid abolition of this exemption which has been under consideration for some time.”

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has lobbied for years for volumetric concrete mixers to be regulated as HGVs and Jerry McLaughlin, MPA director for economics and public affairs, said he agreed “100%” with Denton’s comments.

“Before Christmas, transport minister Jesse Norman announced he would bring volumetrics within the scope of O-licensing and drivers’ hours and working time rules and consult on weights, with a proposed transition period limit of 38-tonnes for four-axle volumetrics,” he said.

“From our perspective this is a very positive announcement and the sooner there is regulatory convergence for volumetrics and other HGVs the better.”

In December, the DfT said a decision on licensing was expected soon.


Scottish paving specialist Granite Pave has O-licence curtailed for numerous offences


A Scottish stone paving specialist has had its O-licence curtailed to one vehicle from its current authorisation of six after an Edinburgh public inquiry.

Deputy TC Hugh Olson heard at the inquiry that the DVSA had found several shortcomings in the transport operation of Granite Pave both at a routine check and a later visit to the operating centre last year.

At the roadside check in January inspectors found that the digital tachograph had expired six months earlier and the ministry plate was missing from the vehicle.

A later visit to the operating centre in March found the centre untidy and congested, according to traffic examiner James Sweetin.

There were also, he said, a number of systems that were unsatisfactory.

These included drivers’ logs books not regularly checked and signed; no record of log books issued to drivers; digital cards not downloaded and therefore not analysed; inadequate records of driver licences and CPC qualifications; and inadequate maintenance records.

Granite Pave directors Steven Connelly and James McGonigle both attended the PI.

They accepted the DVSA findings but said that they had been overwhelmed by the rapid expansion of the business, and stressed their determination to be compliant in future. They said they did not need an authorisation for six vehicles but needed just one because of their use of sub-contractors.

The deputy TC said he accepted their assurances. He added: “I am prepared to give them the opportunity to demonstrate they can run a compliant operation at the level of authorisation they have requested.”