Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton revoked the licence of West Midlands firm CCS Waste after the company was found to be acting as a front for the disqualified operator Jones Waste Services, which Denton said had “a similar disregard for safe and legal operating practices.”
The inquiry found that the company had failed to establish “sufficient clear blue water” between its operations and those of the disqualified Jones Waste Services. The vehicles still belonged to the latter, and Jones Waste Services paid the drivers and paid for fuel.
“In essence, CCS has acted as a cloak under which Jones Waste Services has carried on operating, in defiance of its disqualification,” the TC found.
The inquiry also uncovered a “worrying” transport manager scam, which resulted in the commissioner disqualifing CCS Waste’s previous transport manager, Christopher Staples, indefinitely, after he had found that Staples had “failed to exercise continuous and effective management to the extent that he did not realise that operations had commenced.”
The TC said that when Staples did realise, he “brazenly offered himself as a flag of convenience transport manager, a name on the licence to give the outward but false impression that a transport manager was in charge.”
The commissioner criticised as particularly “damning” an email exchange between Shaun McCarron and Christopher Staples in which Staples said that he charged “£500 per month for my name to be on [the licence].”
Noting that that Staples also refused to attend the inquiry to out any mitigating arguments, Denton added: “I have no hesitation in finding that his good repute is lost.”
The inquiry also heard that Staples’ successor as transport manager, Lori Wheeldon, had in effect been prevented by the operator from taking up her responsibilities, although he noted that she should have tried harder to do so.
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Denton said: “In her favour is the fact that she tried to become involved but was ignored by the operator. She should of course have insisted that she be allowed to exercise her functions and responsibilities as transport manager.
“But also in her favour is the fact that she resigned as transport manager well in advance of my decision to call a public inquiry. Her good repute is damaged by this experience, but not lost.”
The TC said this was of particular concern because he had made it quite clear in his decision on Jones Waste Services that if Shaun McCarron was involved with any future application he must engage the services of a competent transport manager.
McCarron had in effect ignored this stipulation by the device of “employing” two successive transport managers who were given absolutely no responsibilities in the business and who were virtually never physically present.
Denton concluded: “He clearly treated the post of transport manager as an inconvenience which I and the law had imposed upon the company and which was not to be taken seriously. The result was, unsurprisingly, a simple continuation of all the shortcomings of the previous, revoked, Jones Waste licence.”
The inquiry also found that the firm’s drivers were only making token efforts to carry out walkround checks and had failed to note and report obvious defects. Denton said: “It is dispiriting that this failure was also a feature of the revoked licence of Jones Waste Services.”
In addition it was found that there were large gaps of far longer than six weeks between many safety inspections, which again, the TC noted,was a shortcoming of Jones Waste Services licence. There was also no evidence that vehicles’ tachograph units have been downloaded, and no missing mileage reports were produced.
The commissioner disqualified both CCS Waste and Shaun McCarron from holding an operator’s licence for three years.
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