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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbrian firm warned over vehicle maintenance standards

A firm has been given a formal warning for failing to meet maintenance standards.

Representatives from Ashcroft Plant (Cumbria) Ltd, a groundworks and demolition company based in Dearham, near Maryport, appeared before the region’s Deputy Traffic Commissioner Simon Evans on January 17.

The hearing followed a public inquiry into the firm’s HGV operator’s licence after a government enforcement agency reported issues with its vehicle maintenance standards.

Directors from the business, which operates out of Craika Farm, gave evidence to the Deputy Traffic Commissioner in response to the findings of a Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) examiner.

The VOSA officer carried out his investigation in July 2012, inspecting the company’s vehicles and trailers.

The examiner identified mechanical defects on the fleet, issuing one delayed and three immediate prohibition notices.

An immediate notice stops any further use of a vehicle until it has been repaired.

One of the prohibitions was also considered to represent “a significant failure in maintenance” because the trailer’s parking brake was not working on at least two road wheels.

The Deputy Traffic Commissioner also heard that the VOSA officer had found incomplete records for routine vehicle and trailer safety inspections and that checks had not been planned in advance.

He also found that those inspections had not been carried out on time with many up to six weeks overdue.

The company also has a duty to ensure that drivers undertake daily visual checks on vehicles and trailers before using them.

However, the examiner could find no written evidence of this system being in place.

He concluded that defects found on vehicles could have been identified by drivers and avoided if the right system was in use.

Mr Evans also heard from a VOSA traffic examiner, who had undertaken an investigation into the records the company kept for drivers, including how many hours they worked.

The company, she told the Deputy Traffic Commissioner, had provided tachograph charts showing the work of its drivers which revealed some apparent offences.

The directors were also advised that the use of a JCB and trailer to carry goods on a public highway without a valid MOT was illegal.

The Deputy Traffic Commissioner also recorded two commitments on the company’s licence – that a third party would carry out a maintenance audit in July and that the JCB and trailer would not be used until further consultation had taken place with VOSA.

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