Darrells Transport Services and a transport manager for MJD Services have been labelled “extremely foolish” for lending licence discs and giving cover to an illegal operation.
The pair were both criticised by the Traffic Commissioner for London and the South East of England, Nick Denton, at a public inquiry.
Denton curtailed the licence held by Darrells Transport Services to one vehicle for three months and disqualified Michael Bowyer, a transport manager at MJD Services for three months.
The Traffic Commissioner heard that Noel Darrell, a director of Darrells Transport Services, did not inform his transport manager when he specified an additional vehicle - a fuel tanker - on the licence. The vehicle was owned and operated by Mulberry Automotives - a company that did not hold a valid licence.
Invoices created for the hire of the vehicle and delivery work were a fiction intended to disguise the true position, which was that the vehicle was put on the Darrells Transport Services licence as cover for continued illegal operation by Mulberry Automotives.
Darrell did not check whether the driver of the vehicle was ADR qualified or had the relevant qualifications to transport fuel.
The illegal activity came to light during a previous public inquiry into a licence application made by Mulberry Automotives – the firm’s director, Subash Choudry, told the Traffic Commissioner he had been using a vehicle on other operators’ licences.
Michael Bowyer, a transport manager at MJD Services, added Mulberry’s vehicles to the company’s licence without the knowledge of directors Stephen Dole and Philip Skelton.
The additional vehicles were in reality being operated by Mulberry Automotives.
Bowyer believed that he had a 50% shareholding in Mulberry Automotives and inexplicably that this allowed him to add the company’s vehicles to the MJD Services licence. Both assumptions were incorrect.
Denton said: “Mr Darrell has indubitably been both extremely foolish and extremely 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 ever 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.”
Denton continued: “A reputable transport manager would have immediately realised that the arrangements being suggested by Mulberry were bogus and entirely illegal.
“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.”