Falkirk O-Licence refused as TC ‘misled’

first_imgAn application for a two-vehicle national licence by Falkirk-based Allan Mason (Scotland) was refused by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Joan Aitken, after she concluded that she and her staff had been misled over the company’s original application for a restricted licence.The company, of Marchlands Avenue, Bo’ness, had sought a licence based at Lauriston Industrial Estate, Old Redding Road, Lauriston, Falkirk, at an Edinburgh Public Inquiry (PI). The nominated Transport Manager (TM) was James Hilson.The TC said that Mr Hilson was already TM on his own two-vehicle licence, on the two-vehicle licence held by Douglas Easton, and on the one-vehicle licence held by Gethin Edwards.Mr Mason’s wife Ann Mason had held a 10-vehicle national licence trading as A&A Mason Executive Coach Hire and latterly the TM was Mr Hilson. She was called to a PI along with Mr Hilson and a licence application by Ian & Audrey Orr trading as A2B Cabs and Coaches, in August 2012.For all practical purposes Mr Mason conducted his wife’s business as if it was his own, and it was he who organised the work and had control of the businessIt came to her attention in January 2013 that Mrs Mason had been sequestrated. In recent years for all practical purposes Mr Mason conducted his wife’s business as if it was his own, and it was he who organised the work and had control of the business.Vehicles were registered in his name. He used the trading name A & A Mason as if it were his own. All day-to-day and operational decisions were taken by Mr Mason. Mr Mason bought and sold vehicles including the PSV vehicles operated on the licence. That he did without reference to Mrs Mason.He and Mr Orr entered into business arrangements, including a transaction whereby Mr Mason sold one of his vehicles to Mr Orr. Mr Orr did not have an O-Licence and Mr Mason gave him a disc belonging to Mrs Mason’s licence. The lending of a disc to Mr Orr left the Ann Mason licence in the position whereby there could be shortage of a disc to meet the operator’s contracts. To meet this and for convenience, a further disc was created by photocopying both sides of an existing disc and laminating the same.It was very unlikely that the operator could have met the financial standing for an increase in authorisation. Thus any increased operation could not have been done lawfully. The TC revoked Mrs Mason’s licence and disqualified her for three years (routeONE, Court Report, 14 February 2013).Mr Mason said that he had felt he could not apply for a licence sooner than the three years after his wife’s disqualification had ended. He now knew that there could be no transfer of discs. He knew you could hire in on a temporary basis.He now knew that only his company could use the discs and only the company’s drivers. He had booked to go on an FTA licence awareness course to bring him up to speed. He wanted to use the licence to do school work, private hire and tour work operating a midicoach and a spare vehicle.In reply to the TC, Mr Mason said that he had bought a minibus six months ago because it was in pristine condition. He still owned a Volvo bus which was off the road and had not turned a wheel since Masons closed. He planned to put it back on the road as it was in good condition.Mr Hilson said that his loyalty was first to himself and his own licence so if he went down and found anything wrong he would be out the door. Admitting that he would be paid below the minimum wage, he said that what was proposed was not a commercial arrangement.Refusing the application, the TC said that Mr Mason was not the holder of the licence that had been revoked but he was the author of most of the misfortune and badness which affected that licence, for he had long had control of that licence. His position was much worse than that of Mrs Mason whom she had to disqualify for three years for ceding the control of her licence to her husband.The licence was not properly managed. The finances were a very peculiar mess and operated without straightforward banking and accounting procedures leading to Mrs Mason being sequestrated for non-payment of monies due to HMRC and a finance company. Mr Mason could not escape culpability for controlling the business such that sequestration arose. Thus he was in control of a licence which had lost financial standing.However it was a licence that had gone beyond lawful operating. Mr Mason was out of control and Mr Hilson hadn’t a clue, because his friend of decades kept it from him.Mr Mason through his company first applied for a restricted licence. It was patently clear that at no time was there going to be compliance with the principal occupation requirement. It was patently clear that Mr Mason was not making a living from chauffeur driving and had not made any living from private hire work.She had not the slightest doubt that the application for a restricted licence was not a genuine one. Mr Mason was desperate to get back into PSV operating. The problem for him was that he did not have the necessary repute to be a public service operator. He did not have the discipline or attitude to be such.She did not find him to be a credible individual. She could not find him trustworthy. Mr Mason sought to mislead her and her staff in his restricted licence application. It was not genuine and he was not genuine. His intention was to get back into bus operation and the licence would have been used to that end with his chauffeur work very much the poor relation.The arrangement with Mr Hilson was not a commercial TM arrangement. It was founded on friendship, not contract. There were significant legal duties attached to being a TM. It was not the arrangement envisaged or required for an O-Licence.She could not take the risk of letting Mr Hilson be a TM for Mr Mason, or Mr Mason’s company, again. To say she was astonished to see Mr Hilson’s nomination on the application was an understatement.last_img