· Regulator horrified by condition of fleet
· Business continued to run vehicles with numerous defects
· Company director also disqualified
A recycling firm’s operating licence has been revoked after a Traffic Commissioner found it was running vehicles in a “shocking state” – posing a danger to other road users and the company’s own drivers.
Traffic Commissioner, Nicholas Denton, terminated Remarkable Recycling Solutions Ltd’s licence last month after concluding the company had been grossly negligent while running HGVs.
He also disqualified the firm’s director, Joseph Esqulant, from operating goods vehicles for 12 months.
During the inquiry, Mr Denton heard the company:
· repeatedly ran vehicles on the road with known defects – one had over 40 defects, many of which made the vehicle unroadworthy;
· allowed two vehicles on the road with insecure loads – one of which posed a health and safety risk to the firm’s driver;
· reported a driver’s conviction and ban from driving for a dangerous load offence;
· picked up two S marked prohibitions – denoting a significant failure of maintenance - for safety critical defects in the same month;
· allowed a driver with no qualifications to carry out routine safety inspections on vehicles – because it was too expensive to pay a maintenance contractor;
· had not taken action against drivers committing offences relating to their duties;
· had no driver defect checks in place – the checks were being carried out – wholly inadequately - by the firm’s director;
· had no system for checking drivers had the correct driving licence, or for educating or disciplining drivers
The evidence, presented by examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards bAgency (DVSA), led Mr Denton to conclude he had no confidence at all in Mr Esqulant’s ability to run a compliant vehicle operation.
“The operator has put safety at risk for a lengthy period which still continues today, and has competed unfairly against operators in the sector who comply with the rules,” he added.
Mr Esqulant, who gave evidence during the inquiry, told the Traffic Commissioner that the loss of his licence would mean the end of his business. He also said the company was planning to employ someone to sort out the vehicle and driver standards and admitted he had not had time to do things properly before.
However, Mr Denton said Joseph Esqulant had shown almost no knowledge of his operator licence responsibilities.
“[He] is still running a dangerously non-compliant operation more than five months after the first S marked prohibition and four months after the DVSA’s visit to the operating centre.
“I was horrified by the state of the vehicle in the photograph of 4 October. Allowing a vehicle to go out in that condition must have posed a risk to the health and safety of the driver.”
He added that it was shocking for a business to continue running a HGV with 44 defects. Another was found to be operating with 20 defects.
During his evidence, Mr Esqulant told the Traffic Commissioner that the defects were minor or not urgent and did not affect the roadworthiness of the vehicles. But Mr Denton pointed out to the director that some of the defects included inoperable brake and headlights.
When asked why the vehicles were not repaired, Mr Esqulant said his vehicles “had to work”.
“The recent safety checks make frankly horrific reading, particularly when one realises that most defects are going unrectified by the maintainer – because he has not been requested by the operator to rectify them,” concluded Mr Denton.
Before deciding to revoke the licence, from 24 March 2014, the regulator reviewed the positive elements of the case, including improvements to bvehicle safety checks, driver defect reports and tachograph chart completion since the DVSA investigations.
However, Mr Denton determined these were heavily outweighed by the failures of the business and its director.
He added that Mr Esqulant should acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to demonstrate that he takes compliance, safety and fair competition seriously, if ever he wanted to apply for a licence after his period of disqualification has ended.
Fleet Industry News