Outgoing DVSA chief Gareth Llewellyn attacks role of TCs

Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA Chief Executive

Outgoing DVSA Chief Executive Gareth Llewellyn (pictured) has launched an extraordinary attack on the function of the Traffic Commissioners (TCs), saying that they “are anachronistic” and that “we don’t need them anymore.”

Mr Llewellyn will be succeeded by Loveday Ryder on 1 January 2021. He was speaking in front of the Transport Committee on 25 November as part of its exploration of DVSA’s work.

In his criticism of the TCs, Mr Llewellyn told the Committee that “they were probably OK in the 1930s, when Majors… pronounced over road safety.” He added that DVSA has “a really good track record of enforcement through the courts and tribunals service” and such an approach should be extended to matters relating to operators that are currently handled by TCs.

Doing so would save the public purse “millions of pounds – not necessarily in terms of people, but in terms of simplifying systems and removing unnecessary estate.”

TCs’ role quickly defended in response to comments

Speaking at a Confederation of Passenger Transport online compliance event the day after DVSA chief Gareth Llewellyn made his comments, West of England TC Kevin Rooney defended the role of him and his colleagues. He also noted that court dates for hearings related to the Agency’s enforcement activities are already being set for no earlier than 2022.

Gareth Llewellyn DVSA comments criticised
A trade body quickly criticised Mr Llewellyn’s comments, claiming that DVSA ‘closed down all its services’ earlier in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

One road transport trade body rapidly criticised Mr Llewellyn. It points out that TCs have worked throughout the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic to assist both passenger and freight operators.

That contrasts with DVSA, “which closed down all of its services and only reacted to the urgent needs of operators when pushed by the industry.”

Senior TC Richard Turfitt quickly issued temporary guidance during the early days of the pandemic and has repeatedly revised it to take account of changing circumstances. A spreadsheet from DVSA shows that over 800,000 heavy vehicles and trailers have been awarded annual test exemptions because of an over three-month suspension of testing from 18 March. Almost 78,000 of those exemptions are for PSVs.

Watch a video of Mr Llewellyn’s appearance in front of the Transport Committee here. His comments about the role of Traffic Commissioners began at 09:42:45.