Three-month transport suspension house building firm

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Scotland's Traffic Commissioner has suspended a Kelso building and property business from using commercial vehicles for three months, after its director made false representations about the mandatory position of transport manager.

Joan Aitken's order means that M & J Ballantyne will not be allowed to run HGVs until September 1, 2017. After that time, the company's licence will be curtailed from five to three vehicles for a further three months.

The regulator said individuals who falsely sign documents and give false undertakings to a public protection regulator undermine road safety and fair competition.

Aitken added she had been "on the cusp" of disqualifying the firm's director Matthew Michael Ballantyne, who is also a company director of the Scottish Building Federation.

"I do not find Mr Ballantyne's action to be excusable," she said in a written decision issued after a public inquiry in Edinburgh. "I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne and Mr Glynn Hobkirk made a false declaration to my office in the transport manager questionnaire, dated May 23, 2012.

“I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne made a false representation to my office in the letter of May 23, 2012, when he wrote 'to confirm our existing transport manager, Mr Glynn Hobkirk, (sic) is continuing in the position'.

“I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne as managing director and signatory to the five-year checklist made a false representation to my office by leaving the name of Mr Glynn Hobkirk on that checklist.”

Hobkirk had in fact ceased to have any active responsibility as a transport manager in 2005.

Aitken said: "The role of transport manager is at the heart of any heavy goods vehicle operation - effective and continuous management is required by law.

"The requirement is a road safety requirement. Road safety is preventative in its purpose. An operator licence is not a piece of paper - it is a commitment to meeting responsibilities to keep people and property safe and for fair competition.”

She also concluded it was appropriate for a licence suspension order to have an economic impact on a business.

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