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Utility firms will no longer be able to avoid censure for transport convictions, warns senior TC

  • 14 April 2014
  • By Chris Tindall

Utility companies that gain convictions could lose their repute after the senior traffic commissioner reversed an apparent unofficial agreement made by her predecessor.

Beverley Bell said it was “difficult to accept” that operators in the utilities sector always attracted convictions because it was “the nature of their business”.

She made the change following a public inquiry in which United Utilities Water Plc appeared before her after attracting a number of environmental convictions.

The company’s solicitor, Tim Culpin, told the vast majority were strict liability offences and related to incidents such as cleaning up watercourses or dealing with the fallout from severe rainfall and overflows into rivers.

The law states that utility companies are liable for incidents such as this.

Culpin added that his client’s performance was “as good as, if not better” than other firms in the sector.

According to Bell, the former senior TC, Philip Brown, “engaged in correspondence with operators of this kind through its trade association that convictions of the nature recorded against this operator will not lead to loss of repute.”

But she said “It is important that the role and function of the traffic commissioners is not undermined or emasculated by knowledge of numerous offences committed by an operator with apparently no subsequent action being taken.”

She said it would be unfair to make an order for loss of repute in United Utilities’ case in light of the guidance from the previous STC, but Bell added: “This case has shone a spotlight on the issues that now arise as a result of a number of convictions.”

For more on this see this Thursday’s [17 April] edition of Commercial Motor.


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