TC warning for ‘big mess’ digger firm

mess tangle

An operator who created a “mess” while attempting to regularise its position as a haulier by transferring from a sole trader to a limited company has had its application granted, but with a warning.

Sole trader Graham Byrne, trading as GB Digger Hire, submitted an application for GB Digger Hire Ltd, after taking advice from accountants and legal representatives. However, confusion arose about the status of the Norwich-based operator, with a cheque lodged to cover the licence renewal fee in the name of the limited business and the wrong letter-headed paper used in other paperwork.

In a letter from solicitors to the office of the traffic commissioners, it said sole trader GB Digger Hire owned all the assets but that upon accountancy advice “for both protection and future planning” it was decide the business, which operated six HGVs and three trailers, should be incorporated, with the division of assets being made between the sole trader and GB Digger Hire Ltd.

In his written decision, TC Richard Turfitt said that by putting the advice of accountants and others above specialist advice on its O-licence, the operator had created a mess and then, by seeking to operate under “contorted arrangements for cross invoicing”, they then created an even bigger mess.

“I am satisfied that these arrangements arose from ignorance on the part of the operator and director, but they cannot be repeated,” the TC said.

He granted the application, but with a warning about the way it had been operating.

Director claims dad made him break the law

Tachograph

An operator who claimed he had “a domineering father” who made him add a vehicle to his O-licence so that it could be operated by another company, has now been disqualified. TC Nick Denton said Simon Jewkes deserved to go out of business and that there was no place in the industry for him, following a virtual public inquiry.

A vehicle apparently belonging to Jewkes International was stopped by DVSA officers at Leatherhead, who found that its tachograph unit had never been downloaded, despite being on its licence for two years. Further inquiries revealed that the vehicle was not being operated by Jewkes, but had been rented out to a friend. Checks showed that the HGV had been registered to a company called Speedwell Transport, which did not possess an O-licence. The DVSA then discovered another vehicle specified on Jewkes’s licence had been registered to ASG Industries since 2014 and one of its directors was Jewkes’s uncle.

The enforcement agency concluded that the two lorries were not being run by Jewkes International and he was effectively lending his licence out to entities not entitled to operate. At the virtual PI, Jewkes accepted this was the case and that he had nothing to do with the vehicles.

In his written decision, TC Denton said Jewkes had claimed he had a domineering father who had persuaded him to put the lorry on the uncle’s licence. The other vehicle was rented out to help “a friend out of a pickle”. He had not considered he was doing anything wrong, but he now knew that to be incorrect.

But Denton said he did not accept this: “He was fully aware that he had specified vehicles on his licence but that he had no knowledge of or control over their maintenance, who was driving them, whether tachograph units and driver cards were being downloaded,” he said. “He cannot possibly have thought this to be acceptable.”

The TC said Jewkes could not be trusted to comply in the future and his actions constituted “grossly unfair competition against those operators who comply with the law”. He revoked the licence and disqualified Jewkes indefinitely as both a transport manager and a director.