A BLACKWOOD courier firm has had its licence revoked by the Traffic Commissioner for Wales.
Pengam-based ADS Express Freight has lost its authority to operate vehicles and its owners, Richard Sims and Andrew Dyke, have both been disqualified.
The decision by Traffic Commissioner for Wales Nick Jones follows a two-year ban issued to Mr Sims in 2011.
Mr Sims, who was also the firm’s transport manager, is disqualified from working in that role indefinitely and can not be involved in operating vehicles for five years. Mr Dyke was disqualified from operator licensing for six months.
In a decision issued after a public inquiry, Mr Jones said Mr Sims had no place in the operator licensing system.
He said: “He has not merely been incompetent, he is manifestly dishonest and there is cogent evidence that he has been manipulating the operator licensing system for a number of years.”
The case centred on an investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which revealed issues with vehicle safety standards.
The DVSA officer also reported issues with maintenance paperwork and driver defect reporting, which is used to make sure vehicles are road-worthy before being used.
Concerns were also raised about the firm using more vehicles than it was allowed to run.
In evidence, Mr Sims claimed that the business never ran more than one vehicle. DVSA officers observed two vehicles displaying valid operator licence discs during a visit to St David’s Industrial Estate in Pengam.
The Traffic Commissioner reviewed the history of Mr Sims as an operator, noting that a licence in his name had been revoked in 2011. On that occasion, Mr Sims was disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence and from being a transport manager for two years.
Mr Sims claimed he did not know about these orders but the Traffic Commissioner rejected this evidence.
Mr Jones added: “I do not accept that Richard Sims did not know about the disqualification. Instead, I find that he has continued to evade and prevaricate to sustain his business for as long as is possible.
“Richard Sims has not run a safe efficient business and has gained a competitive advantage in doing so.
“The fact that defects are identified by a driver but not properly addressed is an illustration of the lack of control.
“The use of more vehicles than authorised, which, on the balance of probabilities I find has taken place, illustrates the cavalier attitude to operator licensing by the partnership operator and transport manager Richard Sims.”
The Traffic Commissioner concluded that many good operators in the region suffer financial hardship and are at a competitive disadvantage because of individuals like Mr Sims, who “manipulate and cheat”.
When contacted by the Argus, Mr Sims declined to comment but said he would be appealing.