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January 09 2019
By Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell is the industry’s leading legal journalist, covering all key cases brought before Public Inquries, Tribunals, Magistrates and Crown Courts


A&A Travel escapes with warning ‘by a whisker’

Boroughbridge-based Alexandra Cunningham, trading as A&A Travel, escaped with a formal warning “by a whisker”, said Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore, when she appeared before him at a Leeds Public Inquiry because of issues over vehicle maintenance, the recording of drivers’ hours and the use of an unauthorised operating centre.

For Ms Cunningham, who holds a 16-vehicle international licence, Gary Hodgson said that it was accepted that there had been a glut of prohibitions, primarily related to drivers. 

There were systems in place and another annual audit was to be carried out. It was accepted that the required production of tachograph information was not fully complied with. Drivers had been recording their domestic work in various ways. 

It was believed that the system in place was adequate, it being felt that the use of spreadsheets was all that was required. A former Senior Traffic Examiner had now been instructed to advise and then carry out an audit in three months’ time.

The TC said that when an operator ran both domestic work and private hire, systems had to be very tight. In this case the systems had not been in place to provide the required information.

It should have been realised that the systems were not working by the fact that the Transport Manager was unable to put his hands on the required information.

Mr Hodgson said that it was now proposed that the private hire work would be limited to the two vehicles that were equipped with tachographs.

The TC said there was a worrying amount of prohibitions in 2017, a good wedge of which should have been spotted by drivers. Drivers had not been doing what they should and that was a management issue.

Wayne Sweeting said that he had been employed to carry out driver training. He audited the walk-round checks and was in charge of discipline. Unfortunately, he had been in hospital for a time and had only been back in work for 10 days.

Transport Manager Antoni Lapilusa said that they were very short of drivers. Some often only stayed for a couple of months and sometimes only days. Some drivers were so ignorant and if they were told off they just walked away. 

After it was said that many of the drivers were self-employed, the TC said that HMRC was quite clear about what it meant to be self-employed. The drivers should really be employed on a PAYE basis.

Mr Lapilusa said that the use of the unauthorised centre for three weeks arose when they gained a contract in the Leeds area and three drivers transferred over under the TUPE regulations.

The TC required undertakings concerning audits of the maintenance and drivers’ hours recording systems, the attendance of Mr Lapilusa on a two-day TM’s refresher course, driver training and a review of the drivers’ employment status. 

He said that if it went awry he would be taking action against the licence.



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