Called five times, then out
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A Co Durham
haulage firm, appearing at its fifth pubic inquiry related to vehicle maintenance since August 1994, has lost its licence.
Bishop Auckland-based A Featherstone & Sons was called before North Eastern Deputy Traffic Commissioner Mark Hinchliffe at a Leeds disciplinary inquiry.
Vehicle examiner Stephen Cave said 25 prohibitions had been issued to the firm's vehicles over the past five years and clearance had been refused eight times. The licence had only been granted for a year at a public inquiry in August 1994, said Cave, This was subsequently curtailed from 14 vehicles and 12 trailers at public inquiries in December 1995, November 1997 and September 1998 to the present four vehicles and four trailers.
Since the last public inquiry two immediate and two delayed prohibitions had been issued during roadside checks. Four vehicles and two trailers he had examined in May were generally satisfactory.
Arthur Featherstone, a partner, said things were not as black and white as they appeared. They had tried hard but were running an old fleet. They had many problems with people going into liquidation owing them money and it had made things tight. They had taken one vehicle off the road because of the hassle they were getting from repeated brake actuator problems. For the future they were proposing to give up artics and to operate 7.5-tonners and a 24-tonne rigid. He felt this would be more manageable and profitable.
He had been doing the maintenance as It had not been worth employing a fitter since the last licence cut-back, said Featherstone. lie felt the situation was through bad luck and some bad decisions, not neglect. He also believed that at times he had been singled out.
Revoking the licence, the Deputy Commissioner said it was a depressing enforcement history. There had been three brake-related prohibitions in the past six months and on the last occasion the vehicle was a danger on the road. He had a
duty to the public and no other decision would be justified in the circumstances.
He made it plain his decision not to disqualify the partners, or hold that they had lost their repute, had been very much borderline.