Fuel supplier licence application refused due to 'disreputable behaviour'

A fuel supplier has been refused permission to operate HGVs after the Traffic Commissioner ruled owners had acted disreputably with contempt for licensing laws.

Mulberry Automotive's application was turned down after a public inquiry in Eastbourne last month – with proposed transport manager Subash Choudry disqualified indefinitely.

Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton ruled that Choudry, who also became a director of the firm, had been operating at least one vehicle while the application was under consideration, even though the business had been warned not to do so by licensing staff.

Denton added:  “In committing such a gross and prolonged breach of operator licensing law, Choudry has shown contempt for that law.”

The London and South East regulator also found that the firm’s other director, Elaine Choudry had failed to check the information provided on the company’s application form before submitting it – leading to false statements about previous licence history.

“Such a careless attitude even to the application form does not imply a serious attitude to the need to comply with detailed rules and regulations concerning maintenance and drivers’ hours.

“The making of false statements, despite the warning against this contained in the application form, also goes to repute.”

The firm’s application was called to public inquiry as a result of a previously refused, restricted licence bid in December 2014. 

Deputy Traffic Commissioner John Baker examined that application at a hearing and was not satisfied fitness had been met. He also noted that Mrs Choudry had almost no knowledge of the business and it was actually being run by Mr Choudry.

Mr Choudry had previously been the director of Mulberry Logistics, which had its licence revoked in September 2014 following liquidation, and South East Express, which had its licence revoked in August 2014 following dissolution of that business.

At the latest hearing, Denton was told the company needed a standard national licence to carry fuel on behalf of other companies. Choudry claimed they had been using third parties for deliveries since the revocation of the Mulberry Logistics licence.

However, after examining bank statements for the applicant, Denton questioned the director further about the third party transport.

Choudry had been driving the vehicle and admitted Mulberry Automotives paid for the fuel – rather than MJD Services, who was supposed to be the operator.

Mulberry Automotives was the registered keeper and insurer of the vehicle, while also paying for its fuel and maintenance.

In fact, the vehicle was only specified on the licence of MJD Services on the day of the public inquiry.

Choudry accepted the company’s bank statements revealed a large amount of trading and told the Traffic Commissioner he thought it was acceptable to do this using the operator licences of other companies.

In a written decision issued after the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner said this was an entirely disreputable way to behave.

“The fact that Mulberry Automotives continued to be entirely responsible for operating the vehicle, determining what work it did and responsible for all operating costs,  makes clear that the true operator continued to be Mulberry, irrespective of whose licence the vehicle was or was not on.”

Choudry will have to take and pass the examination for the transport manager certificate of professional competence and appear before a traffic commissioner at a hearing in order to re-establish his repute.

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