Operators feeling pinch as test stations shut

An East Yorkshire haulier said the closure of testing stations in the region was piling on the cost for operators trying to maintain their vehicles.

Mick Harvey, transport co-ordinator at W. Clifford Watts in Bridlington, said the closure of the goods vehicle testing station in nearby Beverley meant it was relying heavily on Scarborough’s test centre, but that this was now cutting down the days it tests too.

“Alarm bells started to ring,” Harvey said. “This is exactly what happened to Beverley GVTS, then it closed. There are no ATF’s around the Scarborough, Malton, Driffield or Bridlington area and Scarborough GVTS is now on three days testing. The cost to travel to our nearest ATF in Hull is going to be a big issue if Scarborough closes.”

The DVSA said providing more local annual tests at ATFs reduced travel costs and vehicle downtime and that ATF test fees were lower than at DVSA sites.

A spokesman said: “Tests are still available at the DVSA site in Scarborough three days a week. Tests are also available at local authorised testing facilities, including in York and Hull.”

However, Harvey told Commercial Motor that although the initial costs of putting vehicles through a test are less at an ATF, there are then extra fees added on and further distances to travel:

“There has not been enough time spent on looking into the wider impact this is going to have on local business,” he added.

Haulier disqualified for using another company's O-licence

A haulier who continued to operate using an O-licence formerly held by a dissolved company has been disqualified from running trucks.

West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Jones revoked the O-licence issued to Ryan and Ward Haulage, which was being used by Reward Haulage, and disqualified Robert Ward from being involved in O-licensing for three years.

A DVSA investigation carried out following the issue of an S-marked prohibition found that Reward Haulage did not have an O-licence of its own and did not have sufficient financial standing.

Ryan and Ward Haulage, a limited company, was granted an O-licence in 2004, but traded as a partnership from 2005. The limited company was dissolved in 2006 following a disagreement between Ward and co-owner Mr Ryan. Ward continued to trade the partnership until 2010. The only O-licence in operation during the time was for the limited company.

Since 2010 Ward operated as the transport manager and controlling entity of Reward Haulage, of which his wife Lynn Ward was a director. Reward Haulage, like a series of Ward’s former businesses, also used the O-licence granted to Ryan and Ward haulage.

During a February public inquiry (PI), TC Jones was told that the site currently used by Reward Haulage for parking vehicles had never been advertised, making it incapable of being a legitimate operating centre.

The company also incurred a prohibition rate of 64% over five years and 50% over two years. Drivers had also received a significant amount of fixed penalties.

Ward also changed his maintenance provider without giving notice; was not operating from the site Ryan and Ward Haulage had been authorised to; did not have records in place; did not produce documents specified in the PI call-up letter; and did not keep full PMI records. One vehicle operated by the firm received only two inspections in 2013 and none at all in 2014.

During the hearing, Ward blamed his age and family commitments on not taking as much care in his business as he should have been.

In his written decision, TC Jones described the PG9 rate as unacceptable and said the level of knowledge of Ward in respect to his role as a transport manager was “pitifully low”.

Jones said: “Whilst the transport manager was qualified by examination and ought to have had some basic knowledge about the non-transferability of operator licences, he claimed ignorance on this issue.  I regard it as significant that he failed to even advertise the existing operating centre.”

TC Jones revoked the Ryan and Ward Haulage O-licence.

The TC also disqualified Robert Ward from holding a transport manager position until he passes new CPC examinations and said any application involving Lynn Ward should be referred to a traffic commissioner.

Summing up: The TC said Ward should have been aware that O-licences are non-transferable and compliant operators had suffered as a result of his practices.

  • This article appeared in the 30 April print issue of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe?