Scotland’s Traffic Commissioner has suspended a Kelso building and property business from using commercial vehicles for three months, after its director made false representations about the mandatory position of transport manager.
Joan Aitken’s order means that M & J Ballantyne Ltd will not be allowed to run HGVs until 01 September 2017. After that time, the company’s licence will be curtailed from five to three vehicles for a further three months.
The regulator said individuals who falsely sign documents and give false undertakings to a public protection regulator undermine road safety and fair competition.
Miss Aitken added she had been “on the cusp” of disqualifying the firm’s director Matthew Michael Ballantyne, who is also a company director of the Scottish Building Federation.
“I do not find Mr Ballantyne’s action to be excusable,” she remarked in a written decision issued after a public inquiry in Edinburgh. “I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne and Mr Glynn Hobkirk made a false declaration to my Office in the Transport Manager Questionnaire, dated 23 May 2012. I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne made a false representation to my Office in the letter of 23 May 2012 when he wrote ‘to confirm our existing Transport Manager, Mr Glynn Hobkirk, (sic) is continuing in the position’. I find as a fact that Mr Michael Ballantyne as Managing Director and signatory to the five year checklist made a false representation to my Office by leaving the name of Mr Glynn Hobkirk on that checklist.”
Mr Hobkirk had in fact ceased to have any active responsibility as a transport manager in 2005.
The Traffic Commissioner added:
“The role of transport manager is at the heart of any heavy goods vehicle operation – effective and continuous management is required by law. The requirement is a road safety requirement. Road safety is preventative in its purpose. An operator licence is not a piece of paper – it is a commitment to meeting responsibilities to keep people and property safe and for fair competition.
She also concluded it was appropriate for a licence suspension order to have an economic impact on a business.