TCs' annual report 2014-15: in depth look at the North East

Every day this week, the Transport Law Blog will bring you an in depth look at the trends in each traffic area, as detailed in the Traffic Commissioners' Annual Reports 2014-15.

North East traffic commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney has been trialling alternative approaches to calling operators to a public inquiry (PI) in order to free up resources so that operators posing “significant safety or competition risks” can be called to a PI sooner.

Working with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) in Leeds, the TC wants to see more operators called to shorter, less bureaucratic preliminary hearings, or give them the opportunity to undertake training or provide evidence to show that concerns with their operation have been addressed, without the need for a hearing.

Rooney also noted that there had been an increase in the number of goods vehicles being impounded by DVSA officers.

“In many cases, these have been foreign-registered vehicles that have breached cabotage or combined transport rules on a continuing basis,” said Rooney. “The nature of these detentions means that they are rarely publicised. I would like to take this opportunity to make the compliant industry aware that the enforcement agency is tackling the difficult cases and taking strong action.”

North East traffic area in numbers

O-licences in issue and goods vehicles specified
Restricted: 6,789 O-licences in issue. 14,503 vehicles specified.
Standard National: 4,489 O-licences in issue. 26,319 vehicles specified.
Standard International: 1,170 O-licences in issue. 12,794 vehicles specified.
Total number of specified vehicles: 53,616.
Total number of O-licences in issue: 11,607.

O-licence applications
New O-licences issued in full: 709.
New O-licences applied for: 757.

Public inquiries
PIs completed: 93.
Licence revocations: 30.
Licence suspensions: 11.
Curtailment or conditions opposed: 21.
Formal warning: 29.
Operator disqualification: 2.
Transport manager disqualification: 4.
No action taken: 21.

Operator slams DVSA over trailer MoT disc delay

A haulier has branded delays in the DVSA’s trailer MoT system “an absolute farce” after waiting more than five weeks for a replacement disc.

The Milton Keynes firm, which asked to remain anonymous, said it was forced to weigh up breaking the law and running the trailer without a disc, or parking it up until a replacement arrived.

It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to run a trailer without displaying a test disc and companies can be prosecuted for non-compliance.

Ordinarily, hauliers should wait no longer than five working days, but the agency admitted that its resources were stretched and that it was briefing roadside officers about the “temporary problem”.

The operator told it had applied for a replacement on 18 August after noticing its disc had fallen off. As of 21 September, it had still not received one.

The operator said: “I am running the trailer. I can’t afford to have one trailer sat around. It’s a big part of our fleet and we need to be sweating our assets. It’s an absolute farce.”

A DVSA spokesman said enforcement officers would use their discretion on whether to prosecute firms.

“While plans are to redeploy staff from elsewhere in the DVSA, and from other DVSA activity in Swansea, it takes time to carry out that redeployment,” he spokesman said.

“Unfortunately the increase in demand happened suddenly at the end of the summer where resources are most stretched.”

He added: “Only if no effort has been made to become compliant will prosecution be considered. Provided an application for a replacement has been submitted within the 21-day period following issue of the offence recertification notice then no further action
will be taken, provided the trailer is covered by a valid test certificate.”