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A West Midlands business owner has been severely punished by the Traffic Commissioner after a thorough investigation revealed what the commissioner called ‘wholesale incompetence’. The business owner, James Walker, can no longer use HGVs in conjunction with his skip hire business.

Commissioner Nick Jones also disqualified Walker indefinitely from holding a position as a transport manager anywhere in the UK or Europe. It’s not clear what Walker would have to do in order to be allowed to work as a transport manager again. In all likelihood, it would mean a tremendous effort to show he has changed his ways.

According to the official investigation, Walker violated the law and demonstrated measurable incompetence in numerous ways and on numerous occasions. As examples, he falsified documents presented to VOSA investigators, he operated three vehicles using licensed discs from another company, and he allowed his company drivers to engage in other questionable practices.

In all likelihood, the punishment will mean an end to Walker’s business, JW Skip Hire Ltd. It is unlikely he would be able to continue without directly running his own HGVs; contracting out to another company would be cost prohibitive. According to Commissioner Nelson, that’s just fine with him.

In his written decision, Nelson stated that Walker’s company “very much deserves to be ended and its demise will assist in compliance in the industry and help create a level playing field so that overall industry standards can be improved”.

The Law Is the Law

Although the HGV Training Centre takes the side of HGV operators and drivers when appropriate, this is one occasion where we cannot. The law is very clear in stating what is required of companies like Walker’s and, like it or not, the law is the law.

When we train company drivers on behalf of transport managers, we always stress the importance of complying with the law. We assume that those managers and company owners are abiding by the law themselves. In this case, the business owner destroyed his own livelihood and possibly jeopardised the careers of his drivers.

All company drivers just getting started in the business need to understand how important following the law is. If your employer expects you to break the law, it may be time to find a new place of employment. The good news is that there is currently a significant shortage of HGV drivers throughout Europe. You should have no trouble finding work if you need to leave your current situation.

On one final note, remember that all HGV drivers must earn CPC certification by September of next year. This certification demonstrates your competence in carrying out your professional driving duties safely and efficiently. If you fail to be certified you could lose your job and/or face a £1,000.

The HGV Training Centre is a leading provider of driver training for HGVs, PCVs, heavy construction equipment, horseboxes and more. We offer both individualised and fleet training at more than 45 locations throughout the UK.


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