Quality Foods O-licence suspended for three weeks following drivers' hours and tacho offences

South East and Metropolitan traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) suspended the O-licence held by Quality Foods from 8 to 26 September following a public inquiry.

Quality Foods supermarket and its owners Arvind Sedani, Pius Sedani and Vipul Sedani will not be allowed to run any vehicles until next week after an investigation by the DVSA revealed a number of faults.

The company had failed to check drivers' hours and tachograph records and left excessive gaps between routine safety checks on vehicles.

Drivers had also committed weekly rest offences including failing to take two consecutive days off, and had neglected to identify numerous defects on vehicle safety inspection reports.

Premises in Ilford and Spitalfields were also identified that had not been approved by the TC.

The investigation was initiated following a check of one of the partnership's vehicles earlier this year. The inspection revealed tachograph charts that went back to April 2014 and therefore disregarded the legal requirement for used charts to be returned to the operator within 42 days.

TC Denton said that partners Arvind and Pius Sedani appeared to be "hazy on the details of some of the measures taken to address the non-compliance" and were "too ready to offer the traffic manager as a panacea rather than taking charge themselves".

He noted that there had been no evidence of serious instances of driving over the drivers' hours limits and that an outside body had been engaged to analyse driver records and produce reports about infringements.

A three week suspension was therefore deemed appropriate, though TC Denton said that the reoccurrence of the problems reported by the DVSA would most likely result in the O-licence being revoked.

The public inquiry was held on 5 August and resulted in four undertakings being attached to the partnership's licence:

  • at least two partners will attend an O-licence management course by 31 October this year. An independent audit of the operator's systems for maintenance and drivers' hours and the effectiveness of those systems will also be carried out before this date.
  • all drivers will attend CPC training modules which include driver walk round checks and the use of tachographs by 30 September.

Boris Johnson's plan to force retrofitting of larger HGV door windows for cycle safety a step too far

London mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to force the retrofitting of larger windows in HGV cab near-side doors have been attacked as a step too far that risks further damaging the image of road transport.

Speaking to Commercialmotor.com after the mayor revealed the initiative at the launch of the Safer Lorry Scheme earlier this month, Ray Engley, head of technical services at the RHA, questioned the practicality and benefit of mandating retrofitting panels in cab doors.

“The jury is out on that one. We’d be happy to work with TfL on a solution if there is one,” he said, adding that the industry had demonstrated its commitment to addressing the issue and that demonising haulage was not the answer.

“The RHA’s point of view remains that both sides need to play their part. Cyclists need to be taught to make eye contact with HGV drivers, and not to place themselves in a dangerous position on the road.”

Bob Dempsey, operations manager south at Wilson James, said retrofitting windows would be a major cost. “When is it going to stop? We’ve already spent about £40,000 on safety equipment and training for our 10 trucks.”

Dempsey oversees the London Construction Consolidation Centre (LCCC), which has Fors gold. He said, like many, the LCCC had gone above and beyond minimum safety requirements, fitting camera systems, side radar and audible-turn alarms to its vehicles.

“Standard sideguards are more than sufficient for most HGVs [as mandated by the Safer Lorry Scheme],” said Dempsey, adding that tippers, volumetric mixers and some refuse trucks  were the primary source of collisions, not trucks in general.

"What's the cycling lobby doing to reduce collisions? It's all been on the commercial vehicle operator."

However, Both men said Johnson's other proposal - to seek to ensure major construction schemes in the capital provide mandatory routes for HGVs to follow to site, which will minimise left turns and remove them from roads heavily used by cyclists - could work.

"I think it's a constructive proposal that places the responsibility for managing road risk on both suppliers and those receiving. It seemss a sensible [and affordable] way of mitigating road risk," said Engley.

Image: Transport for London