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O-licence misuse ends in two five-year bans

  • 04 February 2014
  • By Roger Brown

Traffic commissioner (TC) for the South East Nick Denton (pictured) has disqualified the bosses of Eastbourne-based SJ Transport for five years, after it was discovered the firm was making trips abroad without an international O-licence.

Following a public inquiry in Eastbourne this month, the TC also revoked the licence of the business – run by Shaun Manser and Claire Gordon – for three vehicles.

Manser was stopped at Newhaven port in May 2013, having travelled from Dieppe, France in a 7.5-tonne vehicle, which was not displaying an O-licence disc and was not specified on the licence of the firm.

The truck had been overseas despite SJ Transport only holding a standard national licence. Ferry crossing reports indicated that another vehicle, which was specified on Manser’s licence, had also made eight unlicensed trips to France.

The tachograph charts Manser provided when stopped displayed numerous gaps in his records and he failed to produce his driving records to Vosa (now DVSA) inspectors. Manser had also driven the vehicle without a valid MoT – it was overdue by three months. He then drove it illegally and without insurance for more than 1,400 miles before finally taking the vehicle for a test, which it failed due to mechanical defects.Vehicles run by the firm had also been issued with prohibition notices for defects, including a seriously underinflated tyre.

Jonathan Madden, one of Manser’s drivers, was fined £1,200 in September 2012 for exceeding 10 hours’ driving, having insufficient rest within 24 hours and failing to take a weekly rest, after working for nine consecutive days. Manser himself had two previous convictions for driving without a DVLA registered licence. The Office of the TC had not been informed about these convictions.

Furthermore, the terms of the O-licence required Manser to park at the authorised operating centre in Brampton Road, but residents in Seaford Road close to the firm’s operating centre complained to police about HGVs parked in their street.
Sussex Police found that a vehicle owned by the partnership had been parked there without permission on numerous occasions in 2012 and 2013.

The TC said: “There is no sign at all that the partners have taken any action to improve compliance. The way in which the partnership has operated this licence has repeatedly flouted the law, put the public and other road users in danger, caused an environmental nuisance to the residents of Seaford Road, [and] constituted unfair competition against operators.”

TC Denton disqualified Manser and Gordon from holding an O-licence for five years, with Manser losing his repute. Denton added: “No competent and reputable transport manager could oversee, and have been directly responsible for, infringements of such a serious, repeated and prolonged nature.”


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