The West Midlands Traffic Commissioner, Nick Denton, has advised transport managers to be vigilant when they agree to be named on an operator’s licence, after a replacement TM admitted he had no contact with the licence holder while his application was being reviewed.
The regulator told Renford Stephenson that he should have been concerned after an operator asked him to be on a licence and submitted the forms – but they didn’t have any further contact. Mr Denton said this was a strong indication that all was not as it should have been with the nomination.
The operator, Ace Drinks Ltd, didn’t actually employ Mr Stephenson as a replacement TM during the consideration process, which was delayed considerably because the company failed to respond to correspondence from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.
“Mr Stephenson had had no involvement at all with Ace Drinks Ltd while his application was being considered: he had never exercised the transport manager’s duties even on an informal basis,” the Traffic Commissioner remarked.
Mr Stephenson attended a public inquiry on 21 March 2017 in Birmingham in connection with the operator’s licence held by Ace Drinks Ltd. His repute had previously been considered at a public inquiry in December 2016 into another licence holder – T J Movers Ltd. The Traffic Commissioner found that Mr Stephenson’s repute would be retained if he attended a CPC refresher course, which he subsequently did.
The director of Ace Drinks Ltd, Parminder Dhadwal, did not attend the hearing into the company’s licence, advising the Traffic Commissioner’s office that he had commercial commitments in Spain on the day of the inquiry.
The company came to the regulator’s attention after its previous transport manager, Charles North, resigned. Mr North said his decision was due to lack of communication with Mr Dhadwal.
Ace Drinks Ltd subsequently nominated Mr Stephenson as transport manager but failed to declare his association with two previously revoked licences. The Traffic Commissioner’s office asked for an explanation for the omission but the firm failed to respond. A proposal to revoke was then made.
In the absence of a reply from the operator, Mr Denton made an order to suspend the licence on 22 February 2017 due to the lack of professional competence, which had not been satisfied for more than a year.
Following the conclusion of the public inquiry, he made an order to disqualify Mr Dhadwal from operating for 12 months.
“Because he has behaved in such an irresponsible manner, in failing to answer numerous pieces of correspondence and continuing to operate for 14 months without any kind of functioning transport manager (whether formerly accepted on the licence or not), and in notifying my clerk of his non-attendance at the inquiry only a few hours before it was due to take place, I conclude that a period of disqualification is appropriate.”