Traffic Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport; each Commissioner is responsible for a traffic area. There are eight traffic areas:
East of England
London and the South East
North East of England
North West of England
West of England
What is a Public Inquiry?
A public inquiry is a formal tribunal hearing, chaired by the Traffic Commissioner (TC) for the traffic area in question. There are many reasons a public inquiry (PI) may be called, however, they chiefly follow from two scenarios:
A new application, or a change to an existing application, is submitted for consideration;
An operating centre has been audited by a DVSA traffic examiner, and the audit report escalated to the TC.
An operator will receive an invitation to public inquiry in the post; in the letter will be detailed the points of concern; following that, some paperwork, known as the ‘bundle’, will be sent to help the operator to prepare for the PI.
Why is a PI called?
During the PI, the TC will hear evidence from all parties concerned – usually from the operator, the DVSA/police, and any valid complainants.
Most often, new and existing operators are summoned to PI when there are serious concerns over:
Vehicle maintenance arrangements;
Condition/roadworthiness of vehicles;
Safe loading practices and procedures;
Drivers' hours infringements;
Repute of nominated Transport Manager (TM);
Inadequate paper or digital records;
Questionable financial standing;
Undeclared information (such as that relating to legal or financial history);
Incorrect information given to the TC or DVSA.
Consequences of an unfavourable PI include:
Having one's vehicle authorization curtailed;
Losing the right to operate from a particular operating centre removed;
A Transport Manager losing their good repute;
An operator being suspended from operating for a designated period;
An operator losing their licence.
An operator has the right to legal counsel during public inquiries.
An operator may be invited to request a public inquiry if they wish to challenge a decision made against them by the TC.
The experienced consultants at Chartwise can guide you through the entire process, from putting together a formal response and conducting a preliminary audit of your operation to assisting you in person on the day of your inquiry and undertaking remedial action following it.
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