In a recent public inquiry, the Traffic Commissioner for the North West, Gerallt Evans, heard the case of Eric Sprakes trading as Sprakes Transport Services
Creation of New Company Causes Problems for Operator
Eric Sprakes had held a standard international goods vehicle operator’s licence since 1993 authorising the use of twelve vehicles and twelve trailers. There are now two vehicles in his possession. Mr Sprakes is also the Transport Manager. At the five yearly continuance of the licence earlier this year, it became apparent that the Operator lacked financial standing. The examination of the licence also raised a concern that there had been a change of entity – that is the legal entity operating the vehicles had changed from Mr Sprakes as sole trader to a limited comonay he had established.
Mr. Sprakes asked for the name on the licence to be changed to Sprakes & Sons Limited after being contacted by the commissioner’s office. He was then called in to a public inquiry.
For the hearing, financial evidence provided was in the name of Sprakes & Sons Limited. Mr Sprakes admitted that the sole trader business had “finished” in 2012 after a fire at his premises. Sprakes & Sons Limited was incorporated at that point. He claimed an accountant had advised him that he could keep his licence as a sole trader. Mr Sprakes said he thought this was in order as the VAT registration certificate for Sprakes & Sons Limited gave the trading name of Sprakes Transport Services.
Mr Sprakes said he realised he had made a “huge mistake” but insisted it was not deliberate.
He explained that the limited company had now applied for a new operators’ licence.
In his findings, Commissioner Evans said “I have considered Mr Sprakes’ persistent failure to notify the change of entity… I am also concerned at the lack of evidence of continuing professional development. For those reasons, and taking matters as they stand today, I do not have confidence in Mr Sprakes’ ability to be compliant in future… (Thelicence holder) ceased to trade in 2008, however, the extent of the failings in this case are such that I would have considered revocation was proportionate even if the sole trader business was still active. The sole trader licence is therefore revoked immediately…
I have considered if an order for disqualification of Mr Sprakes as a licence holder should be made. His ability to effectively manage the maintenance of the vehicles and compliance of drivers has not been called into question. Mr Sprakes is clearly much chastened by the events that have led to his appearance at public inquiry. I am satisfied that with appropriate training and support, Mr Sprakes is capable of regaining his good repute and should be allowed the opportunity of proving he can deliver compliance in future.
I therefore determine that an order for disqualification is not required in the particular circumstances of this case.”
The commissioner cautioned “Sprakes & Sons Limited must not operate vehicles until it has confirmation of authority to do so in the form of an interim or full operator’s licence. Any evidence that unauthorised operation has continued after today’s public inquiry is very likely to result in its application for an operator’s licence being refused.”
The full decision can be found here.