Haulier wins appeal following TC error

A prospective haulier has won an appeal to have his application for an O-licence reconsidered after the Upper Tribunal ruled that traffic commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken made an error when she refused to grant one last year.

Scotland’s TC declined David Telfer, who trades as DT Commercials, permission for one vehicle and a trailer in April 2015. She claimed he had not regained his repute after he failed to adhere to his disqualification from running a fleet of vehicles between 2007 and 2011.

He had formerly been involved in Avondale European, which was stripped of its O-licence in 2007 for drivers’ hours and tachograph offences, but was later discovered flagging out in the Netherlands.

During a public inquiry (PI) in November 2014, Motherwell-based Telfer said he wanted to return to haulage after working as a self-employed driver. He claimed he had been “100% compliant when working for others”, and had attended a transport manager refresher course and gained his Driver CPC.

But the TC’s decision last year highlighted a discrepancy in FTA drivers’ hours analysis and the information Telfer had recorded in a personal diary, both of which were produced as evidence at the PI. The TC questioned the lack of digital tachograph records for July 2014 despite his diary detailing the hours he had spent driving. But on appeal Telfer said he had been driving a vehicle fitted with an analogue tachograph for another operator rather than one that used a digital system.

At the appeal hearing on 20 November 2015 Telfer claimed he did not have the opportunity to address some of the TC’s concerns that were detailed in her written decision as she had examined some of the evidence after the PI had taken place.

The Upper Tribunal found that the TC’s failure to give Telfer the opportunity to comment on her comparison of the records before the decision was made “led her into a highly material error of fact on which her decision to a large degree turns”. It determined that her decision was largely based on evidence that had come to light after the PI.

In the Upper Tribunal’s decision, issued earlier this month, judge Alan Gamble said: “Crucially, the FTA analysis was only of digital tachograph records relating only to those trucks that were equipped with a digital tachograph. No doubt all of this could have been clarified if the traffic commissioner had given the appellant a proper opportunity [to comment].”

The judge added: “In our opinion, the failure by the traffic commissioner to allow the appellant to comment either in writing or orally on the apparent discrepancy between the two sources of evidence denied him the procedural fairness he was entitled to receive from her.”

The Upper Tribunal turned down Telfer’s request for the O-licence to be granted on the evidence provided, but referred the case to be heard afresh in front of another TC or deputy TC at another PI.

Cartwright enters conversions market

Cartwright Group has opened a dedicated vehicle conversion operation near Doncaster.

New subsidiary company - Cartwright Conversions - will provide welfare vehicle conversions, van racking conversions, bespoke conversions and a fleet management service at the site close to the M18 at Dunscroft.

The 30,000 sq ft building includes two production lines, bays, an office annex and stores.

Group MD Mark Cartwright will head Cartwright Conversions, supported by new commercial director David Healy; Gary Stephenson, head of engineering; and 20 experienced engineers.

The business will target the utilities, construction, civil engineering, rail and telecommunications markets.
Healy said: “Cartwright Conversions is being launched from a totally separate location near Doncaster as a clear message to the industry that this is a dedicated operation which will offer a different approach in response to the flexible needs of the market.

“Our Doncaster plant allows us to build multiple repeat vehicles in a line and we have up to 30 bays so we can build different vehicles at the same time which obviously wouldn’t work on a production line.

“This flexibility allows us to build one vehicle in a bay or 500 on a line.”

. Mark Cartwright (left), group MD of Cartwright with David Healy, commercial director of Cartwright Conversions.