West Midlands sole trader disqualified after using an unauthorised operating centre for 15 years

A West Midlands sole trader who used an unauthorised operating centre for 15 years has been disqualified and had his O-licence revoked.

Traffic commissioner (TC) for the West Midlands Nicholas Denton said Leonard Jerram, who held a restricted O-licence for one HGV, was called to a PI after he received a report from the DVSA. It stated that Jerram had been using an unauthorised operating centre at Bridge Nurseries Cannock for 15 years. It also said that the operator’s HGV had incurred an S-marked prohibition in March 2019 for a fractured and failed brake disc. The defect was long standing and should have been picked up and repaired by the maintenance contractor.

The DVSA found no evidence of any driver walk-around checks having been carried out; no preventative maintenance inspection had taken place since October 2018 and records were stored in the vehicle rather than an office.

In August 2019, Jerram returned his licence disc to the TC’s office, stating that he no longer required it and was in the process of selling his vehicle. He also said that as a result, he would not be attending the forthcoming PI.

Denton said Jerram’s understanding of an operator’s responsibilities fell far below the level of understanding required and he was not fit to hold a licence. He revoked the licence. He said: “I am disqualifying him indefinitely, but he is free to request a hearing before a TC if he wishes to argue for the disqualification to be time-limited or cancelled.”

O-licences revoked due to emissions cheat device fitted

Kevin Rooney

EW Gardner & Grandson has had its O-licences revoked and transport managers disqualified after traffic commissioner (TC) for the West Kevin Rooney heard how one of its vehicles had an emissions cheat device fitted.

Rooney said the Bristol haulier, which held O-licences for 30 HGVs and 20 HGVs operating out of Avonmouth and Newport respectively, also had an “appalling” prohibition history and vehicles were not kept fit and serviceable.

A PI in Bristol heard how a DVSA check on one of the firm’s vehicles at Tormarton in 2018 revealed a device thought to be tricking the vehicle’s engine management system into believing the emissions control system was working, when it was not. The TC said drivers had also been convicted of drivers’ hours offences including falsifications, but that most of the offending was at a low to medium level. He added that in two cases it was persistent and serious.

Penalties were issued for overloading and there were indications there were deficiencies with driver defect reporting.

Sole director and transport manager Alex Hucker told the TC he was supported in the office by his son Craig, also a transport manager. He said problems in the business had become apparent at the time of the DVSA investigation, due to family issues and employees having health concerns. However, he said he had not realised the extent of the problems.

The TC said: “I find that Craig Hucker was responsible for causing the emissions cheat device to be fitted; Alexander Hucker did less than enough to involve himself when, on his own evidence, his son was under duress from personal issues. Both transport managers allowed drivers’ hours management to be ineffective and that resulted in serious offending being allowed to continue. Both transport managers failed to deliver against their duties with serious consequences and each has therefore lost his good repute. The position with Craig Hucker is more serious given his involvement with the cheat device.”

He said he understood that putting the haulier out of business would affect many people, but that non-compliance was serious. He held back from making a disqualification order against the operator, but ruled that Craig Hucker be disqualified for three years and Alex for one.