Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney has called on vehicle finance and leasing companies to do more to protect fair competition in the haulage industry after refusing to return an impounded vehicle.
He also said the case – and others like it before his fellow commissioners – show that both DVSA and regulators are committed to providing a level playing field for the compliant UK haulage industry.
Mr Rooney, who leads on enforcement matters for traffic commissioners with Sarah Bell, made the comments after DVSA impounded a vehicle breaking the cabotage rules.
The Traffic Commissioner refused to return the vehicle to its owner – DPM Finance Ltd – because they knew it was being used illegally.
He said: “This is a finance company that finances vehicles, both within the scope of operator licensing and outside. It is reasonable to expect that it understands advances over the past 10 to 15 years. It is now the case that, for example, a car MOT certificate is simply a receipt and bears no value in relation to whether or not the vehicle has a valid MOT. That check must be done online.
“In that context, it is unbelievable that an honest and reasonable finance company would not check the validity of an operator’s licence using the online system that has been in place fifteen years and takes merely a few seconds to use.”
UK national Neil Sissons was operating under a Bulgarian Community Authorisation but had no valid operator’s licence to authorise the journey he was undertaking when DVSA stopped him.
Mr Rooney said: “This is the third vehicle that Mr Sissons has had detained by DVSA for breaches of cabotage. No application was made in relation to the first vehicle because DVSA sent the relevant documentation to Mr Sissons’ office in Bulgaria and he never received it.
“Following the May hearing [for the return of the second detained vehicle], my office wrote to the Bulgarian authorities in both English and Bulgarian asking them to consider whether Mr Sissons continued to be of good repute.
“Regrettably no response has been received and Mr Sissons continues to use the Bulgarian authorisation to conduct domestic operations within the UK.”