Director’s ‘arrogance’ led to serious and dangerous vehicle safety issues

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The director of a civil engineering firm, which lists its clients as Jaguar, Aston Villa Football Club and Astra Zeneca, has been banned from operating commercial vehicles for two years.

Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton found that Liam McGilloway, the director of Danson (Midlands), failed to adhere to basic rules – resulting in an employee driving an articulated vehicle without the right driving qualification and a vehicle being used with 10 of 10 wheel nuts loose on one of its wheels.

The industry regulator said McGilloway had arrogantly assumed he could operate without a qualified transport manager and had “scant regard” for the basic legal requirement of professional competence.

“The public has a right to expect that a medium sized operator with a standard licence for 16 vehicles will have someone who is professionally competent overseeing operations and ensuring compliance,” said Denton in a written decision issued after a public inquiry in Birmingham.

He concluded that the firm’s transport manager, John McGilloway – who did not attend the inquiry – was in effect an absentee, name only transport manager.

“There is no evidence John McGilloway has ever exercised any of his functions or been present at the operator,” he said.

“I find that the operator has in practice been without a qualified transport manager for a considerable period of time, since at least March 2017.”

This led to a host of serious compliance problems, identified during investigations by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), in addition to the driver licensing issue and loose wheel nuts.

They included: a driver recording numerous instances of driving for more than 4.5 hours without the required break; the company failing to download driver cards or vehicle units – a legal requirement which allows HGV operators to identify whether drivers are working within the law and taking proper rests and breaks; and a trailer was found to be overloaded by 16%.

Addressing the loose wheel nuts at the public inquiry, Liam McGilloway said that he kept a mental record of wheels that had been removed, instead of using a proper “wheel off” and torque register. He had previously told DVSA that a written record could be used against him by the agency.

Denton described this lack of proper records as “astonishing” and noted that the driver failed to identify the loose wheel nuts before starting his journey, despite the fact that the wheel nut indicator device was severely distorted.

“Liam McGilloway has knowingly operated without professional competence, and the arrogant assumption that he was able to do this has brought about serious and dangerous non-compliance problems,” the regulator concluded.

The revocation of the company’s licence will take effect at 12.01am on January 8, 2018. The disqualification order against McGilloway will also come into effect at the same time.

John McGilloway was disqualified indefinitely from acting as a transport manager on December 18, 2017.

The public inquiry was held on December 6, 2017. 

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