A Bedwas haulage firm which significantly compromised road safety has been disqualified from running vehicles for 12 months by the Traffic Commissioner for Wales.
Nick Jones said he had “no sympathy whatsoever” with Syllamas Ltd because it had knowingly operated vehicles with defects, without tax and without the appropriate test certificates.
He added that the firm had prioritised commercial considerations over road safety and compliance with the law.
The regulator revoked the company’s licence to run vehicles and disqualified the firm and its director, Pauline Morris, from holding another licence for 12 months. He also concluded that Stephen Morris had been acting as a shadow director and disqualified him for 36 months. Mr Morris was the company’s nominated transport manager, a post from which he was also disqualified. The Traffic Commissioner additionally disqualified Mr Morris from professional driving for 12 months.
During a public inquiry at the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre on 21 March, government inspectors from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), told Mr Jones that the company had significantly compromised – and was a risk to – road safety.
Investigations by DVSA examiners revealed:
- one of the company’s vehicle had been stopped on 16 January 2017 around Junction 47 of the M4. Inspections of the vehicle and trailer led to the issue of a safety critical prohibition notices and three fixed penalties for defects. The MOTs for the vehicle and trailer had also expired
- the same vehicle was stopped in Swansea a day later, where the Police identified that it was uninsured
- an investigation at the company’s premises identified a trailer parked on the road without an MOT
- the untested trailer was also found to have safety critical defects. Stephen Morris was aware of the defects when the trailer was moved onto the public road
- Mr Morris had continued to use an untested vehicle (on 26 occasions) after he was told that the MOT had expired by a DVSA examiner
- routine safety inspections were not carried out on time
- no working time directive records were kept by the company
Giving evidence to the Traffic Commissioner, Mr Morris said he had not been aware the tractor unit was out of MOT when it was stopped in January but he did admit to knowing the trailer was not tested. He said he was unaware about the insurance until the Police encounter. He did not realise the insurance policy had terminated after direct debit payments were not made in September 2016.
In a written decision issued after the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner said he accepted that Mr Morris had not appreciated the insurance policies had expired but added that he should have known the insurance was not valid.
“In any event, he most certainly did know that he was operating without MOT certificates, without tax and with unroadworthy vehicles,” Mr Jones added.
“The failures have had a significant impact on risks to other road users due to the poor vehicle conditions.”
The Traffic Commissioner also concluded that a professional driver who drives an uninsured vehicle and knows that it is unroadworthy, untaxed and without a valid MOT merits an order of personal disqualification.