Operators sanctioned for lending O-licence discs

Nick Denton, traffic commissioner (TC) for London and the South East, has curtailed a London operator’s licence and disqualified a transport manager for three months after they were found to have aided an illegal vehicle operation.

The TC has reduced Darrells Transport Services’ authorisation from two vehicles to one for three months after its director, Noel Darrell, specified an additional fuel tanker on the company’s O-licence without the knowledge of its transport manager.

The tanker was owned and operated by Mulberry Automotives, a company that had its application for an O-licence refused by Denton earlier this year, but displayed a disc issued to Darrells Transport Services.

A public inquiry (PI) in Eastbourne on 8 October was told that Darrell fabricated invoices to show delivery work undertaken for Mulberry and the hire of the vehicle, which the TC found had been created to cover up the unauthorised operation by Mulberry.

The practices came to the TC’s attention while he considered Mulberry Automotives’ application at a hearing in July. Its director, Subash Choudry, admitted that the vehicle had been operated using a borrowed O-licence disc .

Darrell had failed to check whether the vehicle’s driver had an ADR licence or was qualified to transport fuel.

Denton said: “Mr Darrell has indubitably been extremely foolish ?and reckless: foolish in that he accepted Mr Choudry’s proposed deal without question and added a fuel tanker belonging to another company to his licence, without mentioning this to his transport manager; reckless in that he thought he could add a fuel tanker to his licence without any knowledge of the rules applying to the carriage of dangerous goods.”

Michael Bowyer, transport manager at Swanscombe, Kent-based MJD Services (UK), was called to the October PI as he had added Mulberry’s vehicles to MJD’s O-licence without informing directors Philip Skelton ?and Stephen Dole. The vehicles were being operated by Mulberry Automotives.

Bowyer claimed that, as he had a 50% shareholding in the Mulberry business, he incorrectly believed that ?its vehicles could be added to the ?MJD Services (UK) O-licence.

Denton disqualified Bowyer from acting as a transport manager for three months and said a reputable transport manager would have realised the arrangements suggested by Mulberry were “bogus and entirely illegal”.

The TC added: “Mr Bowyer failed to realise this at the time the arrangement was proposed, and for more than four months afterwards – even after my staff had queried the arrangement with him. The scales fell from his eyes only when the public inquiry was called.

“Both cases show that operators ?and transport managers should work closely together and that no one person should have responsibility for doing everything without any supervision or cross-checking.”

MJD Services (UK) is a separate legal entity to MJD Containers and MJD Logistics (UK) and holds its own O-licence.

Calais secure truck park opening delayed

Plans for a new secure truck park at the Port of Calais are facing serious delays with the deadline pushed back from November 2015 to sometime in the spring of next year.

News of the delay comes as RHA called this week for the French military to deployed at Calais, warning that improved security at Eurotunnel had pushed the migrant problem back to the Port of Calais.

Plans for the secure truck park were announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in July this year in response to concerns at the rising numbers of illegal immigrants trying to board trucks queuing at Calais.

The secure truck park, which will house 230 vehicles at the former Hoverspeed terminal,  was due to open at the end of November.

However, a Home Office spokeswoman confirmed today that the site will not open until spring 2016. She was unable to say why the site is delayed.

Both RHA and FTA expressed concern at the delay this week.

RHA international affairs head Peter Cullum told Commercialmotor.com: “We were told by the Home Office the park would be open by November. That was recently adjusted to the end of this month.

"Sometime in spring is a lot later than we expected and given the scale of the problem at Calais and the danger it poses to our members, it is a concern.”