Assist VIP Travel licence suspended for 14 days

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Breaches relating to drivers’ hours and tachograph rules lead to suspension and disqualification orders for Birmingham operator

Breaches of the drivers’ hours and tachograph rules have led to the 25-vehicle national O-Licence held by Birmingham based Assist VIP Travel being suspended for 14 days by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nicholas Denton.

In addition, he disqualified Transport Manager (TM) Baljit Singh Atwal from acting as such until he had retaken and passed the TM CPC examination. He gave the company a period of grace until 1 September 2020 in which to appoint a new TM, which could be Mr Atwal if he passes the transport CPC examination by then.

Making the suspension and disqualification orders following a Birmingham public inquiry (PI), the TC said that the company had failed to fulfil its undertaking to ensure the observance of rules relating to drivers’ hours and tachographs. It had failed to identify and investigate missing mileage.

A driver had started duty after less than five hours of daily rest. Vehicle units had not been downloaded within the 90 day deadline, and driver cards had not been downloaded within the 28 day deadline.

Analogue tachograph charts showed continuing centre field and mode switch errors which were clearly not being picked up or dealt with by the TM. Digital tachograph data seemed only to have been produced in the days immediately preceding the PI.

The company lacked effective systems to deal with breaches of the drivers’ hours rules. One driver had received four verbal warnings for significant drivers’ hours offences. Another was still driving without a card.

Mr Atwal had clearly failed to identify drivers’ errors in completing analogue charts and had little or no understanding of the digital tachograph analysis system used. Although he had been on a two day CPC refresher course, it did not seem to have led to any practical improvement. While he accepted that Mr Atwal had not deliberately set out to fail to comply, he was in doubt that he had been a semi-detached presence and had failed to exercise the required continuous and effective management of the transport activities.

He had been too ready to delegate duties to unqualified and unsuitable people, and had failed to check whether those duties had been carried out. Many of them had not. His knowledge of the digital tachograph analysis system used remained poor.

He had been elusive throughout much of DVSA’s investigation. The TC had no confidence that he would be able to ensure compliant operations. He therefore concluded that he lacked the good repute necessary for a TM. Because Mr Atwal’s failings were such that the mere passage of time was unlikely to remedy, he was disqualifying him from acting as a TM for an indefinite period of time.

Director Satpal Bains had relied on his TM to implement effective systems but failed to check that that was being done.

Undertakings were given to have an independent audit by the end of the year and that vehicles would be given roller brake tests at least four times a year in addition to the MoT test.