The West of England Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney, has told a groundworks firm that it could have a future in operating licensing – if it takes a decision to be compliant, backs that up with commitment and makes a little investment.
The regulator made the remarks in a written decision, after revoking the operator’s licence held by K & J Hodge Contractors due to driver, tachograph and maintenance issues.
He said the firm had few of the characteristics normally associated with the operation of heavy goods vehicles but made no order for disqualification because he believed there could be compliance in the future.
“All that is required is a decision to do so, backed up with commitment and a little investment,” said Rooney, in a message relevant to all operator licence holders.
The company appeared at a public inquiry in Bristol on November 16 following a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) investigation.
A traffic examiner visited the operator after Devon and Cornwall Police stopped one of its vehicles in April this year. Officers found that driver Richard Iwanejko was driving a vehicle and trailer with a total weight combination of 10,200kg when his driving licence held a 107 restriction, limiting the weight combination he was able to drive to 8,250kg.
During the subsequent investigation, the DVSA officer found the company: did not have a system for the scheduling/planning of driver journeys/duties; was not analysing tachograph records; did not provide any evidence of storing tachograph record sheets/data; did not have a system of initial driver training or refresher training; only checked driving licences every two years; and did not have a system for monitoring tachograph/speed limited calibration dates.
The business failed to respond to the traffic examiner’s report or her recommendation to attend a new operator seminar.
During the inquiry, director Keith Hodge was frank with the Traffic Commissioner, admitting the issues identified by the DVSA officer had not been rectified. He said he had been too busy on other matters to respond to her report.
Rooney found that a vehicle inspected on March 1, 2017, following the issue of a prohibition on February 27, had not been subjected to any further safety inspections – a total of 37 weeks.
The company had recruited someone to establish management systems within the business a few weeks before the inquiry. But Rooney said the few positive features of the case were trivial when set against a 15-year-old vehicle being left without a safety inspection for 37 weeks, when DVSA guidance recommends six-weekly intervals. He added that it was appropriate to end the licence immediately.