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topic Just cause or impediment

21st August 1970, Page 60
21st August 1970
Page 60
Page 60, 21st August 1970 — topic Just cause or impediment
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

by Janus

NOW that the new licensing procedure has been running for a few months, the arrangements for objections can be seen as a useful means of protecting Licensing Authorities from harassment. No individual can file a complaint against an applicant. He can always be referred to the list of statutory objectors and told that he must seek satisfaction through one or other of those channels.

Before one of the organizations concerned is likely to take the trouble to object, at least two requirements must be fulfilled. The objection must in some way be relevant to the interests of the organization or of its members; and there must be some chance of success. There has to be a just cause as well as an impediment.

Nobody ought to be surprised at the paucity of objections. Experience under the obsolescent system of carriers' licensing is no sure guide. Hauliers were able to act directly on their own behalf, although even in those circumstances a considerable amount of persuasion was often needed. Only the railways, although in due course they became more selective, were at one time inveterate objectors even to applicadons where it seemed unlikely that they would be able to carry the traffic.

MUCH as the railways may have liked to keep up the struggle, they have no place in the objection procedure for operators' licensing. There are eight named organizations with objection rights: the Freight Transport Association; the Road Haulage Association; the General ' and Municipal Workers' Union; the National Union of Railwaymen; the Scottish Commercial Motormen's Union; the Transport and General Workers' Union; the "Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers; and the United Road Transport Union. A chief officer of police or a local

authority is also entitled to object. • It is not difficult to understand why the right has so far seldom been exercised. A trade union may enjoy having the power but whether it would consider action worth while in any particular situation is another matter. Police and local authorities must almost invariably have some easier way of securing whatever purpose they have in mind.

The PTA would seldom have a strong motive based on the interests of its own members as operators on own-account. Strictly from the point of view of his business, the trader would not wish to discourage anybody from running vehicles. His wishes would rather lie in the opposite direction.

Certainly the RHA has already lodged a few objections, so far with indifferent success. The number may increase as time goes on. The professional hauliers that the RHA represents form the only section of the community that sees an advantage in keeping down the number of operators. The main obstacle is that the advantage would be a commercial one and this is something to which operators' licensing pays no regard.

Many hauliers find difficulty in adjusting to the new situation and abandoning the habit of thinking that they have a right to object because an applicant threatens to take traffic from them. They are slow to realize that the objection must concentrate on his personal fitness to enter or to stay in the honoured calling of road transport and on the facilities he has available, or plans to have available, to look after his vehicles and to run his business.

Licensing Authorities seem to be just as much baffled as operators. There is a special problem in judging the claims of a newcomer. He is almost certain by definition to start with a clean sheet. He is naturally willing to give whatever undertakings are required as well as assurances about the facilities that will be available.

HREE weeks after publication are allowed for objections. Much ground has to be covered in this period. An operator who thinks' an objection ought to be made must produce enough evidence to satisfy fellow-operators in his locality that the case is worth pursuing to the point where their association would make the objection official.

There is an alternative. The association could take a leaf out of the old railway book and enter blanket objections at least to every application from a newcomer or for substantial enlargement of a business. This procedure is hardly feasible; it would be wasteful and ineffective. The selective policy adopted by the RHA is the only practicable one.

Not every haulier is satisfied. He is bound at times to feel more disposed than his association to take a chance and to object wherever there seems any hope of making an impression. It is not surprising if he sometimes forgets that he no longer has the right.

Operators cannot easily be stopped from dropping a hint to the Licensing Authority about any application they think dubic This would hardly be in the same categi as seeking to influence a magistrate judge. The Licensing Authority has alw. made it his business to become familiar 11 the industry and with the history of operators. The information may come fir many sources.

IT may have been supposed by sc operators that the naming of ti association as an authorized obit% was intended to provide a channel throi which their knowledge of the seamy sich an application could flow into the recepi ear of the Licensing Authority. For machinery to work in this way association would have to spend most ol time and money in the processing objections with little chance of success.

Additional means of communication have to be found at an unofficial le Hauliers as a body in a traffic area h usually been able to establish with Licensing Authority a relationship wh makes it possible for them to discuss v him whatever problems may arise. T would often approach him as a group members from their association. If I could cause embarrassment in the field operators' licensing, where their assoeiat is a statutory objector, there ought to be practical difficulty in sending the sa deputation under a slightly different title.

Perhaps every licensing system requ at least some machinery for which regulations do not provide. For many yt now the road-rail negotiating commin have run smoothly in parallel with statutory traffic court procedure carriers' licensing. Licensing Authori have paid tribute to the work of committees and have freely acknowled that their own work burden has been easi The committees have been scrupulot careful not to interfere with the function: the traffic court or with the rights of applicant. He has been invited to discussion with the objectors which 01 leads to an agreement to re-word application so that the objections no lor apply and can then be withdrawn. Ther an advantage to the applicant in that case is freed from objection and to Licensing Authority who is able to reac decision expeditiously.

IN spite of the reduction in the num of applications for carriers' licences road-rail negotiating committ continue to meet, although presumably process of phasing out must have begun hardly seems feasible to adapt the procee to operators' licensing, if only because railways will have no future role as objector.

If hauliers continue to worry, as man3 them do, that too many new licences being granted too freely, they may work a new way of keeping in step with the tra court machinery. Much will depend on way in which the machinery functions o it has settled down to a steady pace after initial spurt made necessary by the sw from one system to another.

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