Freight firm’s off the road

Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken.
Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken.

The boss of a Newhouse haulage firm has been handed a two-year industry ban after an investigation into drivers’ practices.

Scotland’s Traffic Commissioner, Joan Aitken, said William Lambie had made ‘gross errors of judgment’.

Her decision follows a public inquiry into Firstline International Ltd of High Street, Newhouse.

The inquiry heard that Mr Lambie (56) held a driver card, which is used to capture work carried out by professional drivers, despite having failing eyesight and no entitlement to drive HGVs.

This had been used illegally by another individual on 36 occasions. The card disguised periods of driving and duty to avoid complying with the rules on drivers’ hours such as taking a break after four and a half hours.

The company had six vehicles based at Newhouse and Larkhall. On its website it says it is growing and tells potential customers it is committed to ‘following all safety and Government guidelines’.

It adds: “When you trust us to ship your freight, you’ll know that the safe transport of your goods is in the hands of skilled, qualified professionals.”

However, Miss Aitken said the offences were so serious that if she didn’t revoke the licence she would be ‘undermining the purposes of the licensing regime which are road safety and fair competition’.

Two drivers, Mr Lambie’s son Steven and Scott Henderson, both denied using any other driver cards.

But Miss Aitken suspended their professional licences for five weeks after hearing they each have convictions for speeding and using a phone while driving and have both been over the 90 hours driving rule.

She said: “This is to reflect the seriousness of the mobile phone offending and also that the drivers’ hours rules are there to protect them from the consequences of driver fatigue as well as to protect the rest of us from such consequences.”