Kelbrook firm’s lapses over HGV safety records
A KELBROOK concrete firm has been prevented from expanding further after a public inquiry heard of “serious failures” in the maintenance of its HGVs.
Deputy North West Traffic Commissioner Simon Evans told Wolfenden Concrete Ltd that he would reduce the firm’s operating licence as a result of vehicles not being given routine safety inspections on time and the use of a vehicle without a valid MOT.
His order means that the business, based in Colne Road, is prevented from using an extra vehicle on its licence. It will now have to apply to the Traffic Commissioner for permission run more than five vehicles.
Director Michael Wolfenden was called to the regulatory hearing following an investigation carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) into his firm’s operator’s licence.
An examiner from the government enforcement body inspected the company’s maintenance procedures in July 2012 and reported concerns over its standards.
In evidence to Mr Evans, the examiner said that some inspection paperwork for vehicles used under the licence was not available and noted that where it was, routine safety checks were late.
Vehicles used under an operator’s licence are required to be submitted for safety inspections at specified intervals, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
The examiner also noted that the company did not have a system for planning these inspections in advance and discovered that a vehicle had been used on the road without a valid MOT.
Additionally, he found shortcomings in the defect reporting system used by drivers to visually identify defects on vehicles before using them and that the firm had a poor MOT rate.
During the inquiry, Mr Wolfenden presented maintenance records to the Deputy Traffic Commissioner and said he was confident they would reveal improvements since the VOSA officer’s visit.
However, Mr Evans identified that vehicles were still not being given safety inspections on time. The company had made a commitment for vehicles to be inspected every 10 weeks but in one instance, the inspection had only taken place after 15 weeks.
The Deputy Traffic Commissioner told Mr Wolfenden this level of compliance is “not acceptable”.
Ruling that he would remove the company’s margin to operate an extra vehicle by curtailing the licence, Mr Evans said that any expansion of the fleet “could not be justified at this time”.
He said: “The (examiner’s) visit exposed the use of a vehicle out of MOT and used for at least four weeks. This was a serious failure and but for the timely intervention of the vehicle examiner might have persisted.”
Mr Evans also recorded a formal warning against the company’s licence and made clear to the business that any future shortcomings would lead to further sanctions.
He added: “I believe that the message has got through to Mr Wolfenden that nothing short of full compliance is acceptable. A failure to achieve this will almost certainly lead any Traffic Commissioner to take action affecting the licence.”
The Deputy Traffic Commissioner recorded three undertakings on the operator’s licence, including that director Michael Wolfenden will undertake a transport manager refresher course within 90 days of the hearing.
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