O-Licence revoked and 12-month ban from driving PCVs for Andrew Southon

The O-Licence held by Andrew Southon has been revoked – along with his PCV vocational driving entitlement – by TC Kevin Rooney

The two-vehicle O-Licence held by Crowthorne-based Andrew Southon was revoked along with his PCV vocational driving entitlement by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney after he failed to attend a Bristol Public Inquiry.

The TC also disqualified Mr Southon from holding a PCV driving entitlement for a period of 12 months. The TC said that Mr Southon presented a vehicle for its PCV MoT on 10 November 2021. It failed on five separate items and had a further advisory defect. The nearside outer second axle tyre had a deep cut in the tyre with cords exposed. The vehicle was prohibited from further use and the Vehicle Examiner (VE) considered that the tyre defect should have been identified by the driver, and marked the prohibition as identifying a significant failure of compliance systems.

A follow-up maintenance investigation revealed no evidence of instrumented brake performance testing as there was required to be. The defects found at MoT should have been identified by the driver and the maintenance provider. Mr Rooney noted that a vehicle underwent and passed a Class 5 MoT just a few weeks before failing by some margin the Class 6 MoT on items common to both. Exhaust emission failures were a common feature. He noted with concern Mr Southon’s comment in his response to the VE: “Failing on emissions is not a danger to a passenger or other road user”.

The tyre damage was obvious and should have been picked up by the driver that morning. Mr Southon advanced in his response to the VE that he did not present the vehicle for test. There was no O-Licence number on the prohibition which suggested that there was no disc in the window. He noted from the licence record that the vehicle concerned had never been specified on the licence. Those two observations lent context to the fact that the prohibition document was recorded as being received at time of issue by ‘A Southon’.

Without the vehicle having been specified or a disc being in the window, there would be no link to Mr Southon unless it was he who presented it for annual test. It followed that he should have identified the obvious serious defect on his walk-round check. It further followed that Mr Southon had sought to mislead the TC inhis written submission. Had he attended the PI, he might have been able to provide an explanation, but he had chosen not to. Making a false statement to mislead a TC was a serious matter. Operator licensing was based on trust. Mr Southon was no longer fit to be the holder of a PSV O-Licence.

The TC’s finding in relation to Mr Southon’s involvement in the tyre defect was such that he was no longer fit to be the holder of a vocational driving entitlement. The starting point in the relevant guidance was a suspension of 14 days. However, the matter had been seriously aggravated by the false statement made in response to the VE. That went to the heart of the trust that must exist with a PCV licence holder given the nature of the role with passengers and their belongings. It caused the TC to deal with the matter as one of dishonesty.