A lot of Operators appear to be of the view that as long as they have gone to the trouble and expense of employing a Transport Manager, that is the end of their contribution to compliance with the undertakings they gave when the Operator’s licence was granted.
Does the buck stop with the Transport Manager? Are they the end of the line for anything involved in the transport operation?
The answer to these questions is almost invariably, NO (unless the Operator is also the TM!).
What are my responsibilities? When the Operator’s licence is granted, the entity which applied for that licence ‘signed up’ to a number of undertakings to ensure compliance with the licence. In a company with a board of directors who run the organisation, those directors are assumed to have ‘collective (or joint) responsibility’ for the licence they hold.
Similarly, where the applicant is a sole trader or a partnership, it is the applicant who is subsequently granted the licence who has agreed to the undertakings and conditions which come with the licence, not the Transport Manager. Those obligations continue throughout the life of the Operator’s licence. The Traffic Commissioner must also be informed of any changes relating to the control of the organisation throughout the life of the operator licence. This would include any additional relevant convictions incurred by the named individuals but also any change to the members of the board of directors of the organisation. Any discrepancies between those directors listed on the Companies House register and those listed on the Operator’s licence at the Office of the Traffic Commissioner could lead to the organisation being called up to a Public Inquiry.
What are the Transport Manager's responsibilities? At the time of application, the proposed Transport Manager signs a declaration that they will comply with separate duties. Whilst it is true that the undertakings of the Operator and duties of the Transport Manager overlap to a great extent, the Traffic Commissioner will expect that both are responsible for ensuring that those original promises are kept.
Is it enough to have a Transport Manager in post?
Again, the answer to this question is almost certainly no.
If the licence holder is called to a Public Inquiry, they can lose their repute if they have failed to manage the activities of the Transport Manager or less frequently, have a Transport Manager ‘in name only’. In the worst cases, the Operator can be prohibited from holding or obtaining an Operator’s licence for a period determined by the Traffic Commissioner. For an executive director, this could also mean they are no longer permitted to act as an executive officer for any organisation that operates commercial vehicles. The licence holder and the Transport Manager will be dealt with separately at a Public Inquiry.
Points to highlight:
Make sure there is a link between the board of directors or controlling influence of the organisation and the Transport Manager or transport operations.
Ensure the list of individual active directors listed on the Companies House register matches those named on the Operator licence with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.
Ensure that the fulfilment of the duties of the Transport Manager, is adequately checked and managed by the licence holder. If in doubt, have an audit.