S&D Executive Hire: Last chance from TC

In cutting the 11-vehicle O-Licence held be Hindley Green, Wigan-based S&D Executive Hire to seven vehicles, Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Miles Dorrington warned that a third Public Inquiry could be fatal for the licence.

The company had been called before the DTC at a Golborne PI along with former Transport Manager (TM) Andrew Camp following an unsatisfactory maintenance investigation in June. It had been given a warning in 2016 and the licence was cut at a PI in July 2017.

‘Odometer had gone backwards’

At the outset, the DTC said that he had looked at the inspection records of two vehicles. There were still serious problems. In one case, the odometer readings had gone backwards.

There were clear issues with drivers not spotting defects, such as an emergency door that would not open. In one case, a driver had reported that a tyre needed replacing, but the vehicle was driven for a further 210 miles before it was addressed.

Over the last two years there had been a 57% failure rate at annual test. There had been 39 fails and 14 passes in seven months. Some of the fail items were serious, including brakes, steering and transmissions.

Asked why “the penny had not dropped sooner” about the MoT record, S&D Executive Hire Director Darrell Louise White said that unfortunately, she was not a mechanic and that she had relied on everyone else. She had taken their word that things were in order.

Current TM John Edwards said that he had stepped down after the last PI because of family problems. The larger vehicles had been taken off the licence as they were unable to look after them properly.

Mr Edwards both observed and accompanied checks on the drivers’ walk-round inspections. He was now again sending vehicles out to have their PMIs audited on occasion. He tried to take vehicles off the road for three days prior to annual test. Mr Edwards accepted that he had been at fault at the last PI.

Need to be ‘100% better’

Mr Camp said that he had been TM for around two years. He had started just after the last PI. Initially he was able to get things done, but it became more and more difficult.

With hindsight, he thought that he should have resigned sooner. Some of what had gone wrong had been down to him and some had been down to the Whites. He thought that everyone could have done better.

Mrs White said that she needed to make it 100% better. The business would not be operating anything larger than 22 seats. She would monitor the maintenance from now on.

Cutting the licence, DTC Dorrington said that there was a historic lack of management of the maintenance and that lessons has not been learned since the last PI. The only way the company could have an increase in its authorisation was if every vehicle passed its annual test first time, and if there was a satisfactory audit by the Freight Transport Association or the Road Haulage Association.

“It is sink or swim now,” he added.