Council leader ran business ‘irresponsibly’

Latest Mildenhall news from the Bury Free Press
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The leader of Forest Heath District Council has been reprimanded for failing to ensure drivers in his employment were acting legally.

Cllr James Waters appeared in front of the Traffic Commissioner on August 29 following an inquiry into the use of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in his farming business.

The inquiry heard that his failure to exercise continuous and effective management was ‘irresponsible’.

Cllr Waters said: “I accept that my duties as council leader occasionally left me with less time to oversee 
every aspect of my lorry business.

“I took steps to tackle 
that, by cutting down to two lorries before this hearing, so I can balance my work 
better.”

Prior to an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency it was found that a driver working for Cllr Waters had not had sufficient weekly rest.

After being stopped, the driver surrendered two pieces of magnet with the potential to disable the vehicle’s tachograph unit, which he denied using.

The inquiry heard a second driver held three convictions from June 2012, including failing to use tachograph record sheets or a driver’s card to record his work, of which Cllr Waters failed to inform the regulator.

Drivers are legally required to use tachographs to record their work.

Traffic examiner Richard Mutimer also reported that vehicles had been kept at an unapproved site.

He told the inquiry that Cllr Waters had admitted letting his drivers run the vehicles themselves while his council duties allowed little time for him to be involved in their daily activities.

Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt made an order to reduce the number of vehicles Cllr Waters is licensed to run from five vehicles and four trailers to two vehicles and two trailers with immediate effect.

He said that Cllr Waters’ reputation as an operator of HGVs had been ‘severely tarnished’.