Warning for groundworks firm after compliance promises

A Leicester operator has been formally warned by the traffic commissioner over shortcomings in its previous licensing history. However, TC Richard Turfitt granted a restricted operator licence to SPS Groundworks authorising two lorries, after the operator made statements of intent outlining how it intended to comply with the requirements in the future.

A previous licence held by director Steven Smith trading as Groundworks & Building Contracts (GBC) was revoked in 2014 after the office of the traffic commissioner noted that it had changed its name, as well as its address. It also appeared that GBC had no transport manager. But inquiries carried out by the DVSA more than five years after the revocation revealed that a lorry had been parked outside the home address of a former director. A new application was then submitted, in the name of SPS Groundworks, on 3 December 2019 and a public inquiry was scheduled to discuss the TC’s concerns.

At the Cambridge PI Smith admitted that he had permitted a situation where statements had not been complied with and that even after the previous licence was revoked, he had continued to allow the unlawful operation. However, the operator promised to carry out driver defect reporting; maintenance checks; driver training and keep drivers’ hours records up to date and, as a result, the TC granted the licence.

Transport Secretary: "smart" motorways not going anywhere

The transport secretary said it was “entirely wrong” that smart motorways were introduced without the right technology to make them safe – but he ruled out scrapping them.

Grant Shapps said reversing the controversial traffic measure would mean acquiring land the equivalent of 700 Wembley stadium-sized football pitches and destroying large areas of green belt and that instead “we have to make what’s there safe.” Shapps was responding to concerns about smart motorways following an inquest into the deaths of two men on the M1, which found that the roads presented “an ongoing risk of future deaths” (CM 4 February).

He told the transport select committee that he inherited the system when he was made secretary of state and he commissioned a report into their safety because he shared people’s concerns. He said that the results of his stock take showed that fatal casualty rates were lower than on conventional motorways.

However, he also said that the rollout of camera technology was too slow. He said: “When I got to the stocktake, these weren’t going to come in for many, many years and I agree with you that it’s entirely wrong to build a so-called smart motorway without the technology in place to make it safer.

“That’s not the right approach. I brought that forward several years at the stocktake. I have met with Highways England and put pressure on and we are bringing it forward again and we will have stopped vehicle detection developed and installed on all of the network.”