The partners in a waste management business have been banned from running commercial vehicles for 25 years after a hearing ruled they were “rogues” engaged in sustained and serious dishonesty.
Andrew Hughes and Elizabeth Hughes, who ran a company called Waste Eaters in Prestatyn, have each been disqualified until 2042 and had their licence to operate HGVs revoked following a decision by the Traffic Commissioner for Wales, Nick Jones.
In a written judgement, Jones said: “I need to disqualify both partners for a very long period of time as this is an appalling case by any standards. Anything other than a very long disqualification will send totally the wrong message to compliant operators and industry.”
Examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) identified a number of offences relating to vehicles being operated by the partnership, which had serious defects, no MOT and were untaxed. In some cases, vehicles were unregistered and uninsured.
In evidence to the public inquiry, DVSA traffic examiner Jonathan Woodward said that, during his 12 years in the role, he had never seen a more blatant, consistent, comprehensive and wide-ranging disregard for road safety and legislation.
One of the drivers, Christopher Jones, appeared before the commissioner in respect of his conduct as a professional driver.
He said that he had been told by Andrew Hughes, his boss, to abandon vehicles when stopped by the DVSA. He conceded he knew this could not be the correct practice but felt under pressure to do as his employer instructed. The driver also told the regulator that very little maintenance took place on the vehicles.
Nick Jones said that Andrew Hughes and Elizabeth Hughes, neither of whom appeared in person, were “rogues” and he noted there had been deliberate and sustained illegal activity: “The partnership has sought to obtain a significant competitive advantage as a result of exceptionally serious failures to comply with regulatory regimes.”
The commissioner also made an order against the professional driving licence held by Christopher Jones, who will be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for 18 months from 19 June. The disqualification would have been longer but for the co-operation he provided and full admissions to the commissioner.
In a separate and earlier hearing, Jones spoke of the need for operator licence holders to understand and respect the rights of public employees, including those who carry out enforcement activities. This followed a public inquiry in Birmingham earlier this year in which a professional driver made allegations of serious misconduct against a DVSA traffic examiner.
“Public employees whose roles include enforcement are entitled to go about their work without harassment and unjustified abuse,” the regulator remarked. “In this case there were unjustified allegations of serious misconduct, albeit by an employee, but I find they were made with tacit approval by the operator.”