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December 19 2018
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

Operator given time to submit
new licence application

TC issues a number of undertakings to South Shields operator who ‘didn’t know he’d done anything wrong’

South Shields-based William Harker, who told Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore than he hadn’t done anything wrong, has had his licence cut to three vehicles plus a direction that it be revoked at the end of February, giving time for the submission of a new licence application in the name of a partnership. 

In addition, the TC required a number of undertakings including that Mr Harker be replaced as Transport Manager (TM) by his son Jason within seven days.

Mr Harker, trading as Harker’s Coaches with an eight-vehicle international licence, had been called before the TC at a Leeds Public Inquiry (PI).

After financial evidence was heard in private, the TC said that there was an entity issue and it would be necessary for an application for a new licence. He gave the family a period of grace until the end of February to show the required financial standing.

Mr Harker said that they were only operating three old vehicles doing school work and a limited amount of private hire. He and his son were the only drivers. They did not send the tachograph charts away for analysis as they were only a small firm not making enough money.

The TC pointed out that it was a requirement of the licence to have a system in place to monitor drivers’ hours that could be demonstrated to DVSA that it was effective. They had also failed to produce tachograph records when requested to do so, only producing them to Gosforth test centre in the build-up to the PI.

During a maintenance investigation in July, the Vehicle Examiner (VE) reported that the four-weekly interval between inspections had been exceeded, with the vehicles being inspected at eight-weekly intervals, with one vehicle going 17 weeks between inspections.

Mr Harker said that the four-weekly interval had been declared in 1973 when he started operating. The vehicles were only doing a small mileage and his son had wanted to have a longer inspection period. The vehicle with the 17-week interval had been off the road. They now had a forward planner, a driver defect reporting system and an up-to-date inspection sheet. They could not afford to buy a new vehicle.

The TC commented that with 30-year-old vehicles he felt that a four-week inspection interval was appropriate. After he said that the defect reports produced did not list any defects, Jason Harker said that there was hardly ever anything wrong.

William Harker, who had acquired his Transport Manager qualification through acquired rights, admitted that he had not done any refresher training. He had said to the VE that he was not doing anything wrong and didn’t know why he was being called to a PI.

The TC said that the licence had been in the wrong entity from the outset. It was an ostensibly safe operation, but the systems were out of date or not there at all.

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