A S Miles Consulting recently had a call to provide consultancy support to a client with a Public Inquiry which immediately caused us some concerns.
Once our Managing Director started to work with the client and their legal team it became apparent that the client had originally had a poor DVSA visit some 18 months previous which had identified a large number of serious issues with the Compliance of the Operator Licence. This included:
- Tachograph Analysis was poor
- Driver were pulling their tachograph cards, and this was not being detected
- Placement journeys were not being recorded
- The maintenance was not up to standard
The client had then undertaken some improvements. It must also be noted that the DVSA took a very supportive position rather than immediately decide to prosecute on this case.
Six months later the DVSA made a return visit to check on progress. They were dismayed that the client had not really grasped the serious position that they were in. They had been on some Transport Manager training but not implemented all of the changes they should have, the drivers were still offending even though the client had invested in an automated remote Tachograph downloading systems, and they were still not investigating offences.
Following some more investigations and being seriously disappointed that the client had not taken advantage of the lifeline that the DVSA had given the client to put their house in order, the DVSA submitted a report to the Traffic Commissioner, which lead to the calling in letter and the Public Inquiry that we were being asked to assist with.
A failure to respond quickly was now becoming a common theme as it became obvious that A S Miles Consulting were being called in to help only 7 days’ notice before the Public Inquiry. This allows for some work to be done but it does not help the client to show to the Traffic Commissioner that they have really taken the situation seriously.
The Public Inquiry
The Public Inquiry, despite the best efforts of their Legal Team and our support carried on in the same vein.
- The client was not prepared and frustrated the legal teams’ efforts to help them.
- They produce new documentation in the course of the Inquiry
- They blamed everyone else, it was not their fault
- Where issues and solutions had been found by us, including PMI paperwork that was 15 years out of date, they had done nothing about it.
- They made claims that could not be supported because they didn’t bring the documents to prove their claims.
- The Traffic Commissioner was frustrated that the client had been on notice of issues for 18 months and only taken action in the last 12 days.
The outcome was a period of suspension of the Operator Licence and the driving licences of three of the drivers.
The Directors have to undergo 2-day Transport Manager Training and OLAC training, which we are being able to do for them. It should be noted that the Traffic Commissioners always prefer it if you do these trainings BEFORE the Public Inquiry, it shows a want to get it right. Additionally, they are going to have to recruit additional staff to support the workload.
What should they have done?
Directors should look at their operations on a regular basis, and if they feel it needs some help get that help before the DVSA or Police stop them.
If you do get stopped and problems are spotted, don’t wait for the DVSA to come and see you, call a well-qualified and experienced transport Consultancy to come in an Audit your performance and then make recommendations. This means you may be putting thing right before the DVSA come to see you.
A good consultancy will also know the best people to speak to for the right legal advice if or when it is needed.
Be prepared to invest in your business, this may be in Training for Directors, Managers or Staff, good training always pays off.
Make improvements and keep on pushing the standards at every opportunity.
Make sure the whole team including the drivers know what is going on and avoid the rumour mill come up with some great stories.
Say Thank you! When people make improvements, get better, bring ideas to the table that help improve things, acknowledge them and say Thank you, in Public, a bit of recognition goes down well for everyone.
If you wish to have a no obligation and confidential chat about this article or any other issue please feel free to call A S Miles Consulting on 01455 389053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org