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Disqualification for ‘rogue’ operator

  • 11 June 2013
  • By Roger Brown

The owner of an Oldbury-based business, who coerced his drivers into breaking drivers’ hours regulations and showed a “reckless disregard” for safety standards, has been disqualified from the haulage industry for nine years.

In a written decision following a public inquiry (PI) in Birmingham, Nick Jones, traffic commissioner (TC) for the West Midlands, revoked the O-licence of Drywall Steel Sections, and described
its boss Rajinder Gupta as a “wholly unreliable witness who has attempted to mislead Vosa and to mislead me” .

A Vosa investigation into the firm began after a driver was stopped using an 18-tonne vehicle without the required category C licence. Further checks revealed another driver was working without the correct licence. In addition, a Vosa traffic examiner found 324 offences had been committed by drivers.

A driver, Keith White, had created false records, did not take sufficient daily rests and on one occasion exceeded 10 hours of driving in a day. White told the examiner he hadn’t been given any training and none of the offences had been pointed out to him. The false record, he claimed, had been made under Gupta’s instruction, to conceal an offence that had been committed. He added that on one day the firm had asked him to drive for 17 hours.

A firm associated with Gupta, Drylining and Ceiling Supplies, had also operated illegally by using a licence disc supplied by Drywall Steel Supplies.Gupta rejected the evidence, saying drivers had been given warnings about their offences.

However, TC Jones said: “Good operators suffer as a result of rogues like Gupta, manipulating the operator licensing system and coercing drivers to break important safety laws. Right-thinking operators will conclude that Gupta should be kept out of the operator licensing system for a substantial period of time.”

He added: “Deliberate and sustained illegal loaning of a disc; deliberately misleading Vosa and a TC; failure to comply with operator licence requirements; and deliberate coercion of a driver to break drivers’ hours rules to obtain commercial advantage are serious aggravating features.”

Jones also disqualified the company director, Sunita Gupta, for six months, for playing a passive role in the business. He also refused to grant a new O-licence to Drylining and Ceiling Supplies.

The TC said Gupta’s disqualification period of nine years was proportionate to his actions and in line with guidance issued by the senior TC.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/disqualification-for-%E2%80%98rogue%E2%80%99-operator