Company owner’s licence is revoked

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A GOVERNMENT unit which revoked the licence of a Waringstown transport company owner convicted of fraud has said it has 15 other such inquiries pending.

The DoE’s Transport Regulation Unit took the action against Richard Dewart, of Dewart Transport in Waringstown.

He was convicted in December of fraud and forgery and given a suspended 18-month sentence.

It was the first time the unit used new powers to strip an owner of his goods vehicles operators licence.

Dewart was convicted of interfering with tachographs - the devices in a lorry cab which make sure drivers do not exceed their permitted hours at the wheel.

The Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) stripped him of his licence on Thursday. He is also disqualified from holding a licence for five years and from acting as a Transport Manager.

The TRU was set up last year. It removed Dewart’s licence under the Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 following a public inquiry.

“We have a further 15 public inquiries to take place at this time,” the head of the unit, Donald Armstrong, said.

“The haulage industry has been complaining for quite some time about the fact that there are operators in the industry who are not operating in a fair manner.

“So the haulage industry is very keen that we do as much as we can to ensure there is a level playing field for everybody in terms of competition.”

He said of the 15 public inquiries set to take place, two relate to the use of illegal fuel by companies.

He said the unit had been informed about a further 15 such cases.

“If you add all those together, we have about 30 cases in the pipeline, half of which are dealing with the issue of illegal fuel,” Mr Armstrong said.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “The majority of goods vehicle operators work within the law.

“What this decision does though, is send out a clear message to any operator, tempted to indulge in wrong practices, to think again

“This week I spoke in the Assembly about the threat to lawful business by others who use illegal fuel or otherwise do not comply with the law.”