Traffic Commissioner: O-licence undertakings must not be ignored

O-licence

A traffic commissioner has reminded operators that undertakings made on an O-licence “hold great weight”, after she revoked an O-licence when a director ignored an undertaking not to get involved in transport management.

Sarah Bell, TC for the South East and Metropolitan area, said Wayne Cooper put commercial necessity ahead of compliance when he got involved in the transport operations of Groundworks Solutions – even though the O-licence specified that he must not do so.

The Canterbury company was issued with a restricted O-licence in August 2016, but with the undertaking related to Cooper attached to it.

This was because Cooper had not disclosed a two-year suspended prison sentence from 2015, or mention at a preliminary hearing that a previous business of his had entered liquidation.

However, Cooper admitted in his oral evidence that by November 2018 he had become involved in “challenging some of the transport aspects such as drivers’ hours and MoT history.”

He also failed to inform the central licensing office that he had become a director in January 2017, after resigning in 2016 due to stress.

In a written decision, TC Bell said that the director “did not connect his voiced concerns around the hours rules and MoT as being at odds with the undertaking for his non-involvement in the transport operations.”

She said: “It is an aggravating feature that the tachograph and maintenance records produced to the hearing identify significant non-compliance.”

There were centrefield errors in the analogue tachographs, inadequate brake testing and out of date preventative maintenance inspection forms.”

TC Bell added: “Operators must remember that undertakings offered and accepted at hearings hold great weight and if they are not treated with care and caution, trust will be broken.

“I cannot trust this operator moving forward as such a finding has no meaningful corroborative evidence.

“The trust is sufficiently broken that if the operator is put out of business then it is not a disproportionate outcome.”

The TC revoked the O-licence of Groundworks Solutions with immediate effect and she disqualified the company and Cooper from holding or obtaining an O-licence for three years.

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