· Operators running on red diesel and carrying alcohol without the correct paperwork
· Repute of transport managers “severely damaged”
Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton has taken regulatory action against two operators after they were reported to him by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The London and South East regulator called the operators to public inquiry when the agency flagged the illegal use of red (or duty-rebated) diesel and issues with an alcohol load.
Capital Demolition Ltd and Daniel Gould, trading as Dee Gee Logistics, appeared at separate hearings before Mr Denton on 04 April.
The traffic commissioner suspended Capital Demolition Ltd’s licence for 14 days. He revoked Mr Gould’s licence with immediate effect.
The two businesses are not connected.
During the inquiry into Capital Demolition Ltd, the traffic commissioner heard that HMRC officers had visited the company’s Addlestone operating centre in October 2013 to carry out assurance checks.
Two HGVs and one private car were found to be running on red diesel. A stock tank in the yard was also tested and found to contain red diesel.
HMRC officers seized the fuel.
The operator told Mr Denton that it operated plant equipment, for which rebated fuel was legal. Insufficient care had been taken to keep the fuel for plant separate from fuel for vehicles.
Mr Denton suspended the operator’s licence for 14 days from 7 April. He directed that the company’s vehicles could not be specified on any other licence during the suspension.
The firm’s transport manager, Dennis Read, was told his repute had been “severely damaged”.
Two undertakings were also recorded on the licence – for a new or additional CPC qualified transport manager to be added to the licence by 30 June and that a company employee would attend an operator licence management course by 31 May.
At Mr Gould’s inquiry, the Traffic Commissioner heard that HMRC officers encountered a vehicle in October 2012 but the driver could not produce the correct paperwork for a load of mixed beer he was carrying. Further checks revealed that the paperwork he did produce had already been used by another vehicle. The driver said he worked for MJC Trading Ltd.
Operator licence records revealed the vehicle was specified on Mr Gould’s licence at the time of the HMRC encounter.
The Traffic Commissioner found that Mr Gould had, in effect, lent his licence out to another business, which had operated without authority and in a criminal manner by avoiding alcohol duty.
Mr Gould must have known lending his licence was an illegitimate arrangement, Mr Denton added, and if he did not, he should have done.
The Traffic Commissioner also considered Mr Gould’s role as transport manager, including on another operator licence.
“Mr Gould’s professional competence and good repute are severely damaged. I have taken into account the more positive record as transport manager on the Dance Buy Ltd licence and for that reason have decided not to remove his repute and professional competence. But it has been a close decision.”
Mr Gould is also required to attend a transport manager refresher course run by an accredited body by 30 June 2014.
Both referrals follow a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed between the traffic commissioners, VOSA (now DVSA) and HMRC to report the latter's commercial vehicle enforcement activity, including the use of rebated fuel.
Mr Denton said: “The MoU is designed to increase the flow of information to traffic commissioners about which operators have been using such fuel and therefore gaining an unfair and illegal competitive advantage.
“Traffic commissioners have a legal duty to take into account unlawful use of rebated fuels when considering licence applications, action against existing licences, and the repute of both operators and professional transport managers.”
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