The director of a haulage firm with operations in Shrewsbury and Coalville has been disqualified from the industry for two years after a regulator found that he encouraged drivers to commit offences.
Nick Denton, the Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands, concluded that Gurpreet Garcha was personally involved in the serious breaches committed by his drivers and chose to break the rules himself in order to make a delivery on time.
He also ruled that Garcha, the owner of Steve’s Transport Ltd, would be disqualified from acting as a transport manager for three years with immediate effect. Mr Garcha will be disqualified from holding or obtaining an operator's licence on 08 January 2017, when the company’s two operator licences will also be revoked.
The regulator said: “This is not one of those cases where an operator, through naivety, ignorance or incompetence was unaware of the offences its drivers were committing.
“In this case, the controlling mind of the company, director and transport manager Garcha was instrumental in those offences, encouraging his drivers to commit them and structuring pay arrangements in such as way as to make them more likely to commit breaches.”
The Traffic Commissioner added that Garcha’s company deserved to go out of business because it had been quite prepared to put profit before the law, risking the safety of other road users.
At a public inquiry in Birmingham last month, Garcha said he had not told his drivers to work more hours than they were legally allowed to, or to remove tachograph cards (which record their duties) and continue to drive.
He admitted that he had taken out his own tachograph card while driving and continued to drive illegally, even though he knew it was wrong to do so. Mr Garcha said he would have missed a delivery if he had not done so.
Garcha added that he had since attended a transport manager CPC refresher course and arranged for his drivers to receive tachograph training.
Seven of the company’s drivers said they had been told by Garcha either to work when they should have been taking a rest or had to take their card out and continue to drive without making a legal record of their work.
Denton remarked: “It is not simply a matter of negligence but Garcha’s positive incitement of drivers to commit offences which makes the case so serious and which requires a significant period of disqualification.”