The licensing application process is a vital first step for a future operator to impress their “readiness to be compliant”, the North West Traffic Commissioner, Simon Evans, has said.
Reflecting on the “chaotic” approach of one applicant for a restricted public service vehicle licence, Evans noted that any business looking to run commercial vehicles must carefully think through their application.
He added traffic commissioners have to be satisfied that an applicant demonstrates competence and understanding of the expectations of a licence holder at the necessary level.
“Very little in the handling of this application has been a positive,” he said in a written decision refusing permission for Ozayr Asghar to operate two PSV vehicles under a restricted licence.
“I have concluded that this application has not been thought through, the operator’s approach has been somewhat chaotic.”
Asghar did not provide a costed business plan separating gross income from net income after expenditure – to prove running PSVs would not be his main occupation – and failed to submit other evidence despite being given extra time to do so.
During a public inquiry, Asghar offered his apologies for failing to produce financial evidence, saying he had just returned from holiday. However, the Traffic Commissioner established that Asghar had in fact been back in the UK for three weeks at the time of the hearing.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner gave the applicant further time to produce evidence to satisfy financial standing and the main occupation criteria but Asghar failed to submit any documentation.
Pointing to the critical gatekeeper role which traffic commissioners perform for the haulage, bus and coach industries when considering applications, Evans said: “I need to be awake to what the public, other operators, and customers and competitors alike would expect of those permitted to join the industry that they will not blemish or undermine its good name, or abuse the privileges it bestows.”
He added: “Operating commercial vehicles is a significant undertaking. The licensing system exists to keep vehicles safe, make sure drivers are not working whilst tired and promote fair competition in the industry.
“That’s why traffic commissioners and staff working on our behalf scrutinise applications closely to make sure the standards for holding a licence are met.
“The information provided on the application form – and in response to further enquiries from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner – is critical to our decision making. As gatekeepers to the industry, it’s our responsibility to be satisfied that people granted entry to the licensing system are committed to road safety and fair competition.
“Incomplete applications are also a barrier to entry for many businesses. If an applicant cannot provide the mandatory information that we need to grant a licence, then it has to be refused.
“So the application process really is the first opportunity to impress on a traffic commissioner your readiness to be compliant.”