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Hauliers suspended for "appalling" failures

  • 14 January 2013
  • By Roger Brown

Nick Denton, traffic commissioner (TC) for London and the South East has curtailed the fleets of three linked Kent haulage companies indefinitely, and suspended them consecutively for two weeks, describing them as having operated in an “appalling manner”.

At a November public inquiry in Eastbourne, the TC heard details of a Vosa investigation that discovered:

· drivers from Swanscombe-based MJD Logistics, MJD Services (UK) and MJD Containers committed a total of 85 breaches of drivers’ hours and tachograph rules during just a six week sample period in late 2011;
· there were a quarter of a million missing vehicle kilometres over the same period, equivalent to around 1.5 days per week illegal driving per vehicle;
· drivers were typically removing their tachograph chart from their vehicle, and then continuing to drive, thus disguising their failure to take the required rest each day, or over a full week.

Following the Vosa investigation, the three companies were convicted of 76 offences of failing to produce tachograph records and fined a total of £22,800.

Vosa also prosecuted drivers for the most serious offences, leading to a further 40 convictions.

At the hearing, Denton was told that a transport manager previously employed by the group – Dennis Smith – had signed off wages paying employees for seven days’ driving when he must have known that the patterns of driving were illegal under the regulations.

Smith had been warned about his repute in October 2010 when the three companies appeared before a deputy traffic commissioner.

The TC criticised Patricia Dole – a director of the companies and a transport manager on some of the licences – for leaving Smith in charge of drivers’ hours and tachograph regulations until at least March 2012.

This was despite Vosa staff telling her during an interview in July 2011 about the serious offences that had been identified from drivers’ records.

A Vosa investigation in September 2011 into a fourth company in the MJD group – MJD Distribution – revealed less than 1% of the drivers had committed infringements.

Richard Dole, director of MJD Distribution, argued this was a sign of improvements made across the group of MJD companies.

However, the TC ruled that:
- The MJD Logistics (UK) O-licence be curtailed from 35 to 27 vehicles indefinitely with a two week licence suspension from 1 January.
- The MJD Services (UK) O-licence be curtailed from 35 to 27 vehicles indefinitely with a two week licence suspension from 15 January.
- The MJD Containers O-licence be curtailed from 40 to 28 vehicles indefinitely with a two week O-licence suspension from 29 January.
- No action be taken against MJD Distribution.
- 17 drivers be suspended from using LGVs for a variety of periods, ranging from four days to seven weeks.
- Dennis Smith be disqualified from being a transport manager indefinitely.
- Patricia Dole be disqualified from being a transport manager and MJD Logistics given three months to find a new transport manager. She cannot have the disqualification cancelled until she has retaken her CPC examination.

In his written decision, Denton said: “It is clear that in the years 2009-2011 the MJD group was run in an appalling manner.”


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