Wisbech haulage firm given ‘first and last chance’ to improve vehicle safety

14:45 12 November 2012

Heathcliff Haulage Ltd Wisbech.

Heathcliff Haulage Ltd Wisbech.

Archant

A HAULAGE firm has been given a “first and last chance” to improve its vehicle safety and ordered to reduce its fleet.

Heathcliff Haulage Ltd, of Wisbech, is now licensed to operate 30 vehicles after directors were summoned to a hearing before Miles Dorrington, Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the East of England.

The inquiry heard that an inspector from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) found serious flaws in the company’s procedures for keeping vehicles safe and roadworthy.

It was also revealed that one Heathcliff driver had been convicted of two offences - taking insufficient rest within a 24-hour period and making a false record of his driving duty.

The latter offence could have seen the haulage firm stripped of its licence but Mr Dorrington ruled that this would not be proportionate.

He said: “I am satisfied that the driver in question, to whom the MSI relates, was acting on a frolic of his own and that the operator was not aware of what he was doing.”

The VOSA examiner visited Heathcliff’s base, in Boleness Road, earlier this year. He found vehicles were overdue routine safety inspections and that future checks had not been planned.

Daily vehicle checks were not recorded, prohibitions had been issued for defects, including tyre damage, and the company had a poor pass rate at annual test.

In July, a trailer operated by Heathcliff was stopped and issued with a safety critical prohibition notice, prompting another investigation.

During a second visit, the VOSA examiner found the business had made changes to its procedures but the condition of its vehicles had not improved.

Mr Dorrington curtailed the company’s licence under Section 26 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 - removing four vehicles from its operation.

Heathcliff has also vowed to undertake an external audit of its maintenance systems, arrange for employees to attend accredited workshops, construct a new inspection facility, implement a written defect reporting system for drivers and employ a new transport manager.

The new maintenance workshop has to be built by October next year.

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