Revised Statutory Documents pave the way for a new operator ways of working in 2016

Senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell has just published a revised set of statutory documents covering key areas of operator licensing and decision making; they come into force on 1st January 2016. These documents are designed to have two parallel purposes; to clarify the expectations of the Traffic Commissioners when it comes to Operator and vocational Driver conduct, and at the same time making decision-making clearer for the internal teams working with the TCs thus enabling devolved decision-making.

The Labyrinth team has reviewed these documents in detail and can report the following key points from the perspective of the operators:

1. For the first time, there is a clear a role description for transport managers and what they are expected to do;
2. A new approach to transport manager working hours;
3. New guidance on driver conduct, including case studies that operators can use to train and educate employees.

“The changes to the statutory documents are designed to streamline processes, extend delegation to our staff and give better guidance so that decisions can be made more quickly,” states Mrs Bell.

“These changes will help to deliver a more efficient and effective licensing regime for compliant operators.”

And she adds that the objective throughout has been to meet the traffic commissioners’ strategic objectives of reducing the burden on compliant operators, targeting only those who put road safety at risk, and achieving more consistent outcomes when dealing with professional drivers’ conduct.

“We have also introduced case studies to provide practical examples of what action can be taken against drivers. This will benefit operators who are proactive in training and managing drivers who are found to be offending.”

Labyrinth has updated its online transport compliance self-audit tool, SilkThread ®, to reflect all these changes. More information about the product can be found at www.silkthread.co.uk.

For those operators keen to understand how it affects them, here is an overview of the relevant changes.

Statutory Document 1:  Good Repute and Fitness

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This document clearly sets out the requirements for Good Repute for Transport Managers. It gives guidance, with significant detail, on how a TM might lose Good Repute based on convictions and other issues, including conduct. Serious offences resulting in loss of repute are defined and more than one road transport offence will result in loss of repute. It also states the way that a Period of Grace works – operators are required to advise the TC if a TM is no longer in position, or has lost his/her repute, and the TC can grant a period of up to 6 months for a replacement to be found, but this is not a guaranteed period. It also gives clear guidance on how O licence applications from Phoenix Companies (sometimes called “Pre-pack”) should be treated.

Statutory Document 2:  Finance

 

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This document is aimed more at the internal staff than the operator, however it is a useful document for operators to read and understand prior to submitting evidence of the required financial standing. This covers what does and does not constitute evidence of appropriate financial standing and can help operators submit their records in the most appropriate way. It also covers the need to provide consistent evidence of sufficient funds rather than a snapshot.

Statutory Document 3: Transport Managers

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This document provides a very useful insight into what the TCs expect of the role of the Directors and Transport Managers. It provides clarity on the definition of an external and internal transport manager and the related expectations, and what constitutes a “Genuine Link” to an operator.

This document also reminds us that a transport manager must possess more than good repute, a qualification and sufficient hours to meet the statutory duty. S/he must be capable of actually managing the transport operation effectively. That may include an assessment not only of knowledge but other facts such as knowledge or confidence to manage. The document also suggested what TCs expect as a starting point in terms of hours worked by a transport manager, which range from two to four hours a week for a fleet of two vehicles or fewer, to full time with additional assistance for operations running more than 50 trucks. Details are shown below.

New Hours requirements for Transport Managers

Motor Vehicles Previous hours New hours
2 or less 8 2-4
3 to 5 15 4-8
6 to 10 20 8-12
11 to 14 25 12-20
15 to 29 Full time 20-30
30 and above Full time + additional assistance required 30- Full Time
Above 50 Full time + additional assistance required
Additional hours may be required for trailers

It also covers, for the first time, General Responsibilities (pages 14-16) which is a helpful guide to what a Transport Manager needs to do to discharge his/her responsibilities as part of the Undertakings.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has therefore identified the following non-exhaustive list of the types of activity which might be expected of a transport manager:

  • to manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure that they are effective;
  • to review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures;
  • to ensure that relevant changes are notified in accordance with operator licence requirements;
  • to keep up to date on relevant changes in standards and legislation;

The following areas are identified as key:

  • Drivers – administration
  • Drivers –management
  • Drivers – operations
  • Vehicle – administration
  • Vehicle – management

The details which accompany this list are a vital read for all Transport Managers. It also covers the responsibilities of the Directors of an operators, who are expected to “Supervise and monitor the actions of the Transport Manager” (see point 28).

Finally it covers the “starting point” for assessing the capacity to exercise full and effective management submissions.

Statutory Document 4: Operating Centres

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This document provides useful definitions for the following key phrases relevant to the Undertakings:

  • “Stable establishment”
  • “Normally kept” (relating to vehicles)
  • “Suitable” premises

It also covers guidance on advertising, addresses and accessibility of operators to the TC ensuring letters can be answered in a timely manner, and how the objections process works.

Statutory Document 5: Legal entities

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 This document provides useful guidance on what constitutes different legal entities from the perspective of O licensing, and lays out Directors’ responsibilities in section 13, including referencing the Controlling Mind and what constitutes a Director.

Statutory Document 6: Vocational Driver conduct

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This document covers the standards expected of a professional driver, and includes the following key phrase (point 45):

Conduct & fitness: Drivers are expected to fully acquaint themselves with the relevant legislation before undertaking employment as a professional driver. Drivers cannot evade their personal responsibility by stating that they bowed to their employer’s orders on issues related to their obligations under the regulations.

Details of all other expectations of professional conduct are included in detail.

Further Statutory documents

Further guidance, including that on impounding of vehicles, can be found here