The international O-Licence held by Wigton-based Reays Coaches has been cut from 70 to 45 vehicles for 28 days by TC Gerallt Evans following a three-day Public Inquiry
The international O-Licence held by Wigton-based Reays Coaches has been cut from 70 to 45 vehicles for 28 days by TC Gerallt Evans following a three-day Public Inquiry.
The TC granted the company’s application to cut its licence by the same number of vehicles, to take effect at the end of the suspension period.
He said that, since June 2017, the company had appointed 12 Transport Managers (TMs) with half of those appointed serving for less than three months before their removal.
The turnover was particularly significant in 2018 and 2019. A DVSA investigation revealed that, between July 2018 and December 2018, records of driver attendance at internal Driver CPC training were allegedly falsified.
Between September 2018 and October 2019, records of unaccounted kilometres were altered and allegedly falsified. Between June 2019 and February 2020, several drivers’ hours infringements were detected, a number involving the failure to record so called “positional journeys”. Between June 2019 and September 2019, four drivers aged under 21 years were deployed to drive large PCVs when not entitled to do so.
The delay in these matters reaching a hearing was regrettable, but the company had used that time to its advantage by addressing the flaws and potential vulnerabilities in its previous approach. If the TC was considering these matters in closer proximity to the occurrences that prompted the Public Inquiry, he would have been considering action in the higher bracket.
The passage of time had strengthened the company’s case that it had addressed the issues. It was now a much-changed operator. The operation was much smaller in terms of vehicles operated, and number of staff. The TC did not consider that the size of the operation in 2018 and 2019 was the cause of any difficulties that arose, nor did he find that the company adopted a culture of pursuing business opportunities at the expense of compliance. However, it was clear that when the operation was at its height, the company faced a number of challenges that left it exposed to the risk of non-compliance.
Those challenges included the turnover of TMs, and the relative inexperience of staff in that and other managerial roles. That combined with (and might have contributed to) a management structure with blurred lines of responsibility. The risks of non-compliance became manifest in the Driver CPC training issue, and to a lesser extent, with the unaccounted kilometres reports and underage driver incidents.
The reduction in the size of the business was not entirely voluntary. The company was keen for the TC to understand that it was not to be seen as a concession that the operation was too big previously. The reduction was the consequence of the economic realities of the last few years and the impact of the pandemic on PCV operators.
Nevertheless, the TC drew reassurance from the fact that the company was now seeking to vary its licence to significantly reduce the number of vehicles it might wish to operate in the immediate future. That reassurance was also supported by the changes made to its approach to monitoring compliance, the clarity of the current management structure, and the stability and experience that now existed at both Director and TM level.
The present size of the operation and the management arrangements gave confidence that the issues seen in 2018 and 2019 would not be repeated.