A farming business in Leominster has seen its operating licence temporarily suspended, and a former transport manager, along with a driver, disqualified.
Traffic commissioner Nick Denton found Connop and Son Ltd had “placed road safety in jeopardy and harmed fair competition”. The company's operating licence will be suspended for two weeks from March 1.
Denton disqualified the firm’s former transport manager, Rosalind Connop, after finding that her negligence led to one of the company’s drivers working excessive hours.
The Traffic Commissioner heard evidence from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) following an investigation into the business.
After hearing from the company and Rosalind Connop, who accepted that she had neglected her duties as transport manager,
In a written decision, the regulator criticised Rosalind Connop, saying she should not have allowed driver Stephen Duggan to devise his own work schedule and then fail to monitor his activities. Duggan used another driver’s tachograph card to in effect work double shifts.
Duggan was reported for committing 84 drivers’ hours and tachograph offences. His vocational driving licence was revoked on February 20, when the disqualification also came into effect.
“Data from vehicle trackers and payslips were screaming out warnings but she did not apparently examine that data,” he added.
“In practice, the result of Connop’s negligence has been that driver Duggan, in working for 80-90+ hours a week over an extended period, has posed a serious danger to the safety of himself and other road users, and has enabled the operator to compete unfairly against those operators who ensure that their drivers stay within working time and drivers’ hours rules and who ensure that vehicles operate within permitted weight limits.”
Duggan used his own driver card and that of another driver to work double shifts and hide the excessive hours he was both driving and working – way beyond the legal limits for HGV drivers.
Payslips for Duggan showed that he had regularly worked between 70 and 80 hours a week, when the maximum allowed under the Working Time Directive is 60 hours.
On some occasions, he worked more than 90 hours per week, including 94 hours in one instance.
Turning to the company, the Traffic Commissioner noted that while there had been some positive developments since the investigation – including the appointment of a new transport manager – the business had known that Duggan presented a high risk but still took no action to monitor him more closely.
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