Sainsbury's fined for bad parking

Sainsbury’s has been fined £4,000 after delivery lorries to one of its Rugby stores repeatedly parked on a pavement, breaching a planning notice.

The supermarket was found guilty of four breaches of the condition notice at a hearing at Warwickshire Justice Centre on 5 January.

The council said it was the third time the store had been prosecuted for the breach after magistrates imposed fines in April and September 2015.

The court heard the store had been granted planning permission with the condition that all delivery vehicles parked in the boundary of the site while unloading.

However, from August 2012 the council received complaints about vehicles parking on Hillmorton Road while making deliveries.

A breach of condition notice was served in August 2013 and the supermarket was fined £1,000 and a further £2,000 for breaches.

In January, Sainsbury’s was found guilty, in its absence, of a further four breaches in October and November 2015. Magistrates fined the store £1,000 for each breach, ordered it to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £384 costs.

Councillor Heather Timms, the Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for development, said: “This condition was included in the planning permission granted to Sainsbury’s to ensure the safety of pedestrians and drivers on Hillmorton Road. Our planning enforcement team aims to resolve issues through constructive dialogue, but unfortunately we have been forced to take the matter to court.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “This was a third-party supplier delivering to our store and we have reinforced the fact with the supplier that all delivery vehicles should be parked in a responsible manner and according to our planning conditions.”

Operators warned to rethink drink-driving policies

Operators have always had a duty under O-licensing rules to take reasonable steps to ensure their drivers, not just vehicles, are not breaking the law. But with the UK government planning to crack down on drink and drug driving even harder, this responsibility has never been more pertinent.

Hauliers are urged to be more vigilant when it comes to testing their drivers for drugs and alcohol, despite there being no legal requirement to have an alcohol and drugs testing policy in place.

A law limiting the amount of illegal and prescribed drugs in a driver’s bloodstream came into force for the first time in England and Wales last year, prompting a lawyer to urge hauliers to update their policies on drugs and prescription medicine.

The blood alcohol limit for driving in in England and Wales – 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - has remained unchanged since 1966, but other provinces have recently tightened up the rules on the amount of alcohol drivers are allowed to consume. The legal limit in Scotland has been 50mg per 100ml of blood for all drivers since December 2014, and Northern Ireland will soon have a 20mg per 100ml blood alcohol limit in place for commercial drivers.

But the limit still remains much higher than for commercial drivers in other industries- train drivers and airline pilots have to adhere to a limit roughly a quarter of the current drink-driving limit in England and Wales. The limit in England and Wales is also much higher than most other EU countries.

So what should operators do to make sure they can cover themselves should a driver be caught breaking drink-driving laws? Even though there are no strict rules surrounding drug and alcohol tests in the workplace, employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of their employees. The employer would have committed an offence if they have allowed the consumption of alcohol or drugs to put others at risk.

The Transport Law Blog recommends that operators consider various methods of testing their staff, either by random checks or on a routine basis. Agreement from the workforce must be obtained before tests are made, and tests should also include those who operate heavy machinery- not just truck drivers.