Haulage firm boss banned for falsifying records

A haulage firm owner from Rothesay has been disqualified from the industry for 12 months after being found guilty of making false records of his driving duty.

Andrew Edwards, trading as Andy Edwards Haulage from Bogmoor Road, Shieldhall, but with a business address at Lochfield, Townhead, Rothesay, also lost his licence to run HGVs commercially following a public inquiry in Edinburgh.

Scotland’s deputy traffic commissioner Richard McFarlane told Mr Edwards that he was no longer of good repute and had failed to demonstrate the appropriate financial standing required to keep hold of his licence.

As a result, Mr Edwards’ authority to run two vehicles and two trailers was revoked with immediate effect, and he was disqualified from driving HGVs for 12 months.

During the inquiry, the regulator heard from a traffic examiner employed by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), who had encountered Mr Edwards driving an HGV under his operator licence on 23 August 2011. She asked him to produce records relating to his driving duty, from which she noticed a number of disparities.

Mr Edwards was then requested to supply any other records on his possession and after identifying further discrepancies, the examiner proceeded to caution him.

Giving evidence to the Deputy Traffic Commissioner, the examiner said she had analysed the tachograph charts recording the operator’s driving duties along with other documentation – including his running sheets – and reported him for five counts of making a false record and one offence of failing without a reasonable excuse to make a relevant record or entry of his work.

Mr Edwards had created false records, she added, to conceal daily rest infringements, disguising the occasions when he had not taken the required legal period off from driving – and the duties connected with his driving, such as making deliveries.

HGV drivers are legally required to take a rest of 11 hours per day but this can be reduced to nine hours on two occasions each week. In this case, the examiner’s report pointed to a duty period approaching 62 hours where Mr Edwards had not taken rests which qualified even at the legal minimum of nine hours.

She also noted that on the same day in August, Mr Edwards had falsified his records on two separate occasions to allow him to complete a workload the examiner described as “excessive”.

In another instance of his offending, a tachograph record indicated Mr Edwards had ceased his duty at 2215 hours. But the driver’s running sheet seen by the examiner revealed he had in fact not finished working and made a delivery over an hour later, between 2340 and 2355.

Mr Edwards pleaded guilty to all six offences at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court on July 9 and was fined a total of £600. Solicitors acting on behalf of the operator subsequently disclosed the conviction to the Traffic Commissioner’s Office, which is a condition of holding an operator’s licence.

After hearing evidence from Mr Edwards during the public inquiry, the Deputy Traffic Commissioner concluded that he had failed to comply with his operator licence undertaking that the rules on drivers’ hours and tachgraphs would be observed.

He also noted there had been a material change to the business holding the licence.

The offending had led to a loss of repute, a mandatory requirement to hold an operator’s licence along with financial standing, which Mr Edwards also failed to satisfy before the Deputy Commissioner.

Turning to the vocational HGV licence which allowed Mr Edwards to drive HGVs, Mr McFarlane ordered that he would also serve a 12 month ban from driving professionally in the haulage industry.