Fair play: traffic commissioner criticises vehicle finance firms19 December 2016

Vehicle finance and leasing firms must do more to protect fair competition in the haulage industry. That’s the call from traffic commissioner Kevin Rooney, who has refused to return an impounded vehicle – the third such vehicle impounded from a UK national running under a Bulgarian authorisation.

He also said the case – and others like it before his fellow commissioners – shows that both DVSA and regulators are committed to providing a level playing field for compliant operators in the UK.

Rooney made the comments after DVSA impounded a vehicle breaking the cabotage rules. The commissioner refused to return the vehicle to DPM Finance – 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 15 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.

Rooney added: “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.”

Laura Cork

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