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Martyn Fisher

BY MARTYN FISHER

Wholesaler slapped with restricted vehicle licence

In defending the case, fruit and veg business cited difficulties with travelling to Heathrow to collect produce

Wholesaler slapped with restricted vehicle licence

An aerial shot of Gasgow wholesale market

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A fruit and veg wholesaler has had its company’s vehicle licence restricted for four months for bad behaviour.

T R Caledonian Fresh Produce Ltd, which is based at Glasgow Fruit Market, will be limited to running three vehicles from 20 May 2016 following a public inquiry in Edinburgh.

Joan Aitken, Scotland’s traffic commissioner, said she was “seriously unimpressed” by the company’s behaviour after it had previously been warned about driver offences in 2012.

The company used the nature of its business as part of its defence.

At the latest hearing, held in March this year, investigators from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reported that drivers working for the company had committed a number of offences, relating to the breaks and rest they are legally required to take.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the company was not undertaking any analysis of infringements committed by drivers or keeping a record of any warnings that had been issued for offences.

Aitken also heard that following a visit by DVSA, Police stopped one of the firm’s vehicles in November 2015. A DVSA examiner identified that the driver, the firm's director Ramzan Hussain, had committed 12 offences, including for insufficient daily rest, exceeding 10 hours' driving and failing to take a break.

In evidence to the traffic commissioner, Hussain said there had been difficulties with journeys to Heathrow to collect fruit and vegetables. He added that he would get held up by customers and sometimes had to wait many hours to load. He told the traffic commissioner that the operator’s licence was very important to the business as they could not do anything without it.

In a written decision issued after the hearing, Aitken concluded that the licence should have given more priority by director Ramzan Hussain.

She said: “Given that the operator’s licence is so very critical to this business, the husbanding of it should have received more care and attention from persons aware of operator licensing obligations, i.e. director Mr Hussain, the person most responsible for directing this.

“What was happening was that the runs to Heathrow had become difficult to manage and Mr Hussain was managing them by interrupting rest. The impression I formed of Mr Hussain was that he was not prepared to be constrained by the rules.

“Compliance is an inconvenience for lots of operators and their drivers but balanced against road deaths and injuries from driver fatigue, the balance favours the rules.”

Aitken also suspended the professional driving licence of Ramzan Hussain for eight weeks, with effect from 23:59 on 20 May 2016.

Another driver, Rabnawaz Hussain, had his professional driving licence entitlement suspended for four weeks from the same date.

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