O-licence curtailed for "shambolic" maintenance arrangements

A sole trader who maintained his trucks at an operating centre that was “materially unfit for purpose”, causing a raft of maintenance issues, has had his O-licence curtailed by Scotland’s traffic commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken.

Isle of Harris-based Kenneth Maclennan, who trades as Maclennan’s Removals, had his O-licence authorisation reduced from two to one HGV for four months from 30 October. He was warned about his repute and professional competence as a transport manager.

When visiting the removal business’s operating centre in 2014, DVSA examiners found an “untidy and unsightly” open yard with plant and scrap vehicles all around, a public inquiry (PI) was told in February.

Inspections were carried out outside in a pit that was “open to the elements” and the examiners were concerned about where the operator could safely park its vehicles, particularly as there was no lighting.

Vehicles had incurred a number of mechanical prohibitions. One truck received a prohibition for a steering pivot defect in 2014 and clearance of the prohibition was refused because brake defects and issues with steering and suspension were found when inspected again. None of his vehicles passed their annual test first time.

Maclennan was issued with a notice to improve the site following the visit, and he assured the DVSA that remedial measures would be taken.

In her written decision, Aitken said: “Given these arrangements and the cold winds and rain that come over Harris in the short days of winter, it is hardly surprising that Mr Maclennan’s vehicles were in the poor state of roadworthiness and inspection as found by the vehicle examiner.”

Drivers’ hours offences were also discovered by the DVSA.

Maclennan told the TC that he was undertaking more checks before vehicles undergo their annual test. He notified the TC of his intention to swap the operating centre for a more appropriate yard, and has dismissed ?the driver who committed the drivers’ hours offences.

Maclennan had also taken on two vehicles formerly operated by John Mackay & Sons, but had not applied to have these added to his O-licence. The TC said he had “insufficient mechanical compliance or resources to inspect and maintain more vehicles and plant”.

Aitken said: “His arrangements were so stretched and administratively shambolic that when one of his vehicles broke down, a substitute vehicle was sent out, but it was out of test and displaying wrong discs.

“The saving grace was that the inspection records had improved, the Tapley meter was being used, the torque wrench was calibrated and driver defect reports showed signs of rectification.”

After the PI, the operator entered into an agreement with an external maintenance contractor.

Maclennan had driven without reapplying to get his HGV entitlement added to his driving licence following ?an earlier disqualification. This has ?since been added to his licence, and ?the TC suspended him from driving HGVs from 30 October for four months.

SAH becomes The Anderson Group

Northside Truck and Van owner Sam Anderson Holdings (SAH) has re-branded to The Anderson Group to reflect its dramatic growth over the past decade.

The Newhouse-based firm was originally established in the 1930’s as a haulage company and is still involved as an operator, owning Sam Anderson Newhouse, T McMillan (Transport) and F Short and Son.

However, its core business is now Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle supplier Northside which it purchased in 2005.
In that time it has grown the Northside business from four to seven showrooms in the north of England.

Northside sold 5,726 vehicles in 2014, almost 1,500 more than the previous year.

The Anderson Group, which now employs 518 staff in outlets across the UK, also has a property rental business.

Irvine Anderson, chief executive officer at The Anderson Group said: “We have expanded considerably over the last decade through acquisition and organic growth.

“However, I believe the business has further to go in the future. We began with four showrooms at Northside and now have seven and that business continues to outperform most of its peers.

“I believe that there is room for more acquisitions in the coming years and we are hungry for commercial growth.”

. Fergus Leitch (chairman, The Anderson Group), left, and Irvine Anderson