Transport manager and licence holder banned for surrendering control to disqualified operator

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A transport manager who allowed a disqualified operator to continue running vehicles has been banned from the industry indefinitely by the Traffic Commissioner.

The London and South East regulator said that Mario Busuttil, who was also the licence holder, should have realised that his “entirely undocumented arrangements” with a disqualified operator were effectively allowing the latter to continue to operate.

Busuttil allowed the director of GEMS G.E. Ltd, Gary Eastwood, a degree of control over his licence that was “completely unacceptable”.

“It should have been clear at a much earlier stage that Mr Eastwood was in effect continuing to operate, and Busuttil should have surrendered the licence at this point,” the Traffic Commissioner said in a written decision.

“Instead, he allowed the arrangements to continue, with the licence being run in much the same non compliant way in which GEMS G.E. had operated when it had a bona fida licence.”

He added that Busuttil deserved to lose his repute as an operator and transport manager and his professional competence in that role because he allowed the non compliant operation to continue.

The operator’s licence held by GEMS G.E. was revoked in December 2014 following a public inquiry, when director Gary Eastwood was also disqualified indefinitely from acting as a transport manager. Mr Eastwood was also disqualified for a year from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence (to 17 December 2015). Busutill was present at that inquiry as an advisor to GEMS G.E.

At the inquiry into his own licence, Busutill told the Traffic Commissioner that his original intention had been to take over the GEMS G.E. business and run it compliantly. He had acted out of friendship to Gary Eastwood. However, Eastwood had in effect continued to run the business and had no real intention of letting Busuttil operate.

There were no records of Busutill receiving any income from the operation of the vehicles or of him paying any of its costs. Maintenance records revealed the contractor was invoicing GEMS G.E.

A DVSA investigation also revealed:

   ·    No tachograph downloads had been carried out by Busuttil at the time of the examiner’s visit in October 2015;

   ·    Vehicles and trailers had not been given safety inspections on time;

   ·    One of the vehicles specified on the licence was still registered to and insured by GEMS G.E. Ltd;

   ·    Evidence from vehicle tachograph units showed that both vehicles had been driven by Gary Eastwood – despite Busuttil claiming the business was not trading

In a written decision issued after the hearing, Denton said: “There are very few points on the positive side of the balance, other than it appears that Busuttil did not intend matters to turn out like this and now regrets his involvement.

“But what has actually happened carries more weight than Busuttil’s good intentions, especially since he did nothing for such a long period of time when it became clear that his intentions were not being fulfilled.

“Even today, four months after the traffic examiner’s visit, it is clear that he has no control over his licence.”

Denton’s order to revoke the licence took effect on 8 April, to prevent further illegal operation of the vehicles.

The disqualification order against Busuttil as a transport manager is indefinite. He will be prevented from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence for one year.

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