The director of an “extraordinarily negligent” company that knowingly operated unroadworthy vehicles, one of which caused a collision and life changing injuries for a pedestrian, has been banned from operating for eight years.
Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton concluded that Gavin Bentley, the sole director of Midland Poling Services, took “little interest” in the safety of the company’s HGVs and said the firm had a culture where vehicle safety was “routinely ignored”.
The industry regulator added that the firm, which put up and replaced telegraph poles for telecommunications companies, deserved to go out of business, and he revoked their operating licence.
Last September, one of the company’s vehicles was involved in a serious collision in Falmouth which left a pedestrian with life-changing injuries.
In a written decision issued after a public inquiry, Denton said: “Mr Bentley’s attitude in the inquiry was of a man who had been let down by those around him – his supervisor, his maintainer, his driver.
“It does not seem to have occurred to him that the responsibility lies with him as director and that he wholly failed to establish the necessary culture of safety within the company.”
During the inquiry, the Traffic Commissioner heard about an investigation carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) after the serious collision in Falmouth.
An examiner reported numerous issues with the company’s maintenance procedures, including that regular vehicle safety inspections were not being completed on time and defects identified on vehicles were not being acted upon.
The DVSA officer also issued a safety critical prohibition notice to one of the vehicles because of mechanical defects.
A police vehicle examiner who examined the company’s vehicle after the collision in September 2016 told the Traffic Commissioner it was in the top ten worst he had seen in his 30 year career - 18 safety related defects were found on the vehicle.
He also concluded the defects identified on the vehicle were present before the incident and it represented a significant danger both to the other road users and the driver.
Denton found the company had been “extraordinarily negligent in its failure to ensure that lasting improvements were made”.
He continued: “This negligence was particularly evidenced by the fact that in November 2016, more than two months after the collision involving the seriously defective vehicle, the vehicle examiner issued an S-marked prohibition to another vehicle for some of the same issues which had been found on the vehicle involved in the collision - loose suspension bolts, leaking exhaust, ABS fault.
“The failures … stemmed from a systematic failure by the company to treat maintenance with the seriousness it deserved.”
The Traffic Commissioner's orders take effect on May 13.