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Disgraceful dereliction of duty shown by haulage firm

  • 31 July 2013
  • By Roger Brown

A judge has dismissed an appeal by Boyes Transport, saying the firm had demonstrated a disgraceful dereliction of duty that exposed its drivers to significant risk.

In a written decision, upper tribunal judge Mark Hinchliffe upheld the December 2012 decision of Western traffic commissioner (TC) Sarah Bell (pictured) to revoke the firm’s O-licence for 14 vehicles and 14 trailers.

She also disqualified director and transport manager Sarah Boyes from holding an O-licence for two years.

Vosa began an investigation into the firm following a variation application. A traffic examiner and vehicle examiner:

- submitted a maintenance investigation marked unsatisfactory;
- raised issues over whether Sarah Boyes’ husband Stephen Boyes, who had previously had an O-licence revoked, played a significant part in the operation;
- alleged Sarah Boyes might be operating vehicles specified on the licence of her brother-in-law Mark Boyes;
- found infringements in relation to driver’s hours and tachographs;
- discovered vehicles being driven without driver cards or tachograph records;
- looked at evidence of failure to use the nominated operating centre over a sustained period;
- found many preventive maintenance inspection sheets did not have signed certificates of roadworthiness and none indicated that any form of brake testing had been being carried out.

A total of 13 drivers were investigated; 12 had offences on their charts, and 172 infringements were detected from 496 records. On appeal, Sarah Boyes alleged:

- the TC had incorrectly linked her case with that of her brother-in-law;
- the TC had been agitated when she first started the public inquiry and was disagreeable and annoyed throughout;
- she and her solicitor were unable to give evidence that needed to be heard;
- the procedure was excessively long;
- the TC did not examine records properly;
- Vosa submitted “false information, blatant errors and unjustified allegations” accepted by the TC without question;
- the TC’s findings of fact were wrong.

Hinchliffe said the tribunal could find no reason to criticise the approach, or conclusions, of the TC. “The overall picture is of a disgraceful dereliction of duty by the operator and its transport manager, which exposed drivers, other road users and the public to significant risk. In many ways, we think that she [the TC] has been merciful.” The judge agreed there had been clear evidence of a woeful lack of control and monitoring at Boyes Transport.


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