Traffic Commissioner refuses to return impounded vehicle

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A plant hire firm has failed in its bid to get back a vehicle that was impounded for illegal operation.

Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones concluded that SWR (Wales) did not establish it was the owner of the vehicle and failed to produce any tangible evidence of monies paid for it.

Jones went on to criticise director Steven Robinson for "deliberately" burying his head in the sand and ignoring the obvious questions any prudent person would ask before letting another company use the vehicle.

The vehicle was impounded because it was being used to carry goods without a valid operator's licence by Valco Scaffolding. That business has been refused permission to operate commercial vehicles by the Traffic Commissioner in April 2017.

On May 22, 2017, Government inspectors found the vehicle laden with scaffolding supplies in Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff. The vehicle had the livery of Valco Scaffolding and was not displaying a valid operator's licence disc.

The driver claimed he was self-employed and currently subcontracted to Valco Scaffolding. A director of the firm, Peter Walker, subsequently attended the scene and told the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) examiner that the vehicle had been sold and was not the property of Valco Scaffolding.

Examination of the driver's records revealed that he had not been driving with a tachograph card, which is used to record his driving and working hours. It transpired that if the DVSA officers had not encountered the vehicle on the day, the driver would have gone on to work for a total of 12 days without having a sufficient weekly rest period.

The drivers' hours rules are designed to make sure drivers have regular breaks and rests so they do not get tired whilst driving.

Following an impounding hearing on June 28, the Traffic Commissioner concluded that Robinson had been exceptionally cavalier in the way he conducted business.

"His lack of attention to a formal letter from my office in relation to the impounding appeal illustrates his lack of professionalism," he said. "Answering questions it was clear to me that Steven Robinson knew that the impounded vehicle was being used, indeed he accepted that this was the case.

“He merely denied knowing exactly what it was being used for. The fact that it was loaded with scaffolding poles and planks would have been obvious indicators that it was going to be used for a period of time by Valco Scaffolding notwithstanding the fact that it's operator licence had been revoked by me.”

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