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Denton said Rateneed Ltd, which trades as Deepak Foods, had shown no appreciation for the need to operate within safety regulations and no urgency to improve standards.

His decision to revoke the company’s licence from July 15 means the business will be prevented from carrying goods using commercial vehicles.

The regulator said it was clear the Tooting business had to undergo a complete change of culture before it could be trusted to hold a licence again.

He added that directors needed to assume their responsibilities or give way to others with the required capabilities.

“Somebody in the organisation needs to take ownership of compliance and acquire the necessary knowledge – through formal training – of an operator’s responsibilities and duties,” Denton said.

All operators sign up to a number of promises when their licence is granted:

  • To keep vehicles taxed, insured and in MoT
  • To check that drivers have the right licence to drive HGVs
  • To keep vehicles and trailers roadworthy
  • To obey drivers’ hours and tachograph rules
  • That drivers will do a daily walk-round check of the vehicle (recorded in writing) before starting to drive
  • To keep vehicle maintenance and driver check records for 15 months
  • Not to operate more than the maximum number of vehicles on the licence
  • To operate only from the operating centre(s) on the licence
  • To tell the Traffic Commissioner within 28 days about any convictions of myself or my staff; a change in maintenance arrangements; a planned change in entity (eg, from sole trader to partnership or limited company); a change in financial status (eg, bankruptcy or entering administration)

Denton concluded Rateneed Ltd had given the impression of an amateur outfit lost in what is supposed to be an industry where professional and legally binding standards apply.

During a public inquiry last week, the traffic commissioner heard about issues with the firm’s vehicle and driver standards. Investigations by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed:

  • The operator had failed to carry out any downloads from its vehicle (a legal requirement to check the work of drivers), despite having acquired it in July 2014
  • The vehicle was found with an insecure load on two occasions
  • The vehicle was found to be 20 per cent overloaded
  • The company had a 100 per cent failure rate for MoT tests over a three-year period
  • The vehicle had not been given routine safety inspections on time, with gaps of up to four months between checks
  • The vehicle twice failed to comply with London Safer Lorry Scheme requirements
  • The use of a premises in Wimbledon without authority

Alarmingly, the company had also been using a car repairer for its vehicle maintenance, with inspection sheets designed for cars being used.

Denton found that despite the issues being brought to the company’s attention in March 2016, there had been minimal action to address the shortcomings by the day of the inquiry.

The traffic commissioner concluded: “The operator is still using an unauthorised operating centre and is still doing nothing to ensure observance of driver’s hours rules. It has shown no appreciation of the need to operate within the safety regulations and no urgency to improve or follow the specific suggestions of the [DVSA] traffic examiner.”

The regulator added there would be much work for the directors to do if ever they wished to apply successfully for a licence in the future.