Thursday, March 9, 2017

Authorities Warn Road Haulage Operators That Delay Can Mean Revocation of Licences

Traffic Commissioners Say a Period of Grace is Not Extendable
Shipping News Feature
UK–In a press release aimed at all UK Operator Licence holders, the Traffic Commissioners have issued a stern warning to companies undertaking road haulage operations which have been granted periods of grace to correct anomalies which could make their licence forfeit. Those outfits which do not meet mandatory financial requirements or who have witnessed the departure or death of a suitably qualified transport manager are often granted a period of grace to rectify matters. The Office of the Traffic Commissioners is pointing out that failure to correct matters within that time frame may well lead to revocation of the licence.

Where mandatory licence requirements are not met, the law requires traffic commissioners to revoke an operator’s authority unless a period of grace has been applied for and granted. If grace is granted, as soon as it expires, the same legal obligation to revoke will then apply. These grace periods can only be granted for a maximum of six months and the issues have to be remedied before the period of grace ends. In the event of the death of a transport manager, the period of grace can be extended to nine months. 

This reminder from the authorities follows the withdrawal of an appeal by Albany Waste Services Ltd., understood to be operating from Sudbury, Suffolk and Colchester and Chelmsford, both in Essex, against an order to revoke the company’s licence, after it failed to comply even after being allowed a four month period of grace to show financial standing and professional competence granted by the Traffic Commissioner for the East of England. The Upper Tribunal refused to stay that decision pending any appeal.

The original inquiry, which took place on 06 May 2016, followed an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) into maintenance shortcomings. The company’s transport manager was allowed to resign during the hearing, meaning the licence no longer satisfied professional competence. The financial evidence produced to the hearing also failed to meet the minimum level required for the type and size of licence held by the company.

The Traffic Commissioner granted a four month period of grace for the operator to provide satisfactory financial evidence and nominate a new transport manager and warned that failing to comply before the end of the period of grace would lead to revocation of the licence. Although the company nominated a replacement CPC holder, but only after the period of grace expired, the Traffic Commissioner remained to be satisfied that professional competence would be met.

No further financial evidence was received. As the maximum period of grace time had expired, the company’s licence had to be revoked. Offering advice to licence holders who are currently subject to a period of grace or may need to apply for one, a Traffic Commissioner’s spokesperson commented:

“This case shows there are serious consequences where operators fail to rectify the issues before any period of grace ends. Operators who are given extra time need to be proactive as soon as the period of grace is granted. Traffic commissioners will not approve periods of grace simply to put off revocation for a few more months. The extra time is granted so that operators can actively secure the future of their licence and demonstrate continuing commitment to compliance with the licensing regime.

“Traffic commissioners are not obliged to allow a period of grace but will always carefully consider any application. They have to strike a balance between allowing operators a period of time to rectify the situation and ensuring there is a level playing field for operators who continue to meet the mandatory criteria.”

There are seven traffic commissioners in total, each supported by a number of deputies, covering England (divided into six regions), Scotland and Wales. Heavy goods vehicle operators and operators of public service vehicles and local bus routes must all be licensed. The traffic commissioners’ role in this licensing process is essential to deliver safer roads, fair competition in road haulage and passenger transport, reliable and convenient public transport, and to help preserve the environment.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Documents on Finance and Transport Managers both offer guidance on applying for periods of grace.