A Norfolk operator with a fleet authorisation of 56 has had its licence curtailed as a warning over ongoing maintenance and record-keeping issues
Norwich-based Dolphin Autos attended a public inquiry (PI) along with Transport Manager Danny Eastland and former Transport Manager Megan Cooke to consider a number of matters, including preventative maintenance inspections, repute, financial standing and professional competence.
Dolphin Autos (Norwich) Ltd is the holder of a Standard National PSV operator’s licence authorising 56 vehicles. It lodged a request to reduce that authority on 3 August. Directors are Constance Maude Cooke, Melvyn Cooke, and Deborah Cooke. Danny Eastland has been named as the licence’s Transport Manager since 19 March 2021. Megan Cooke ceased to act as Transport Manager from 31 July this year.
The company has one operating centre at Swanton Road, Norwich, and preventative maintenance inspections (PMIs) are said to be carried out by Michael Lemmon, Stuart Day, Nigel Cox, Martin Moore, Daniel Taylor-Hunt, Sebastian Larkowsky and Rhys Margitson, though the Traffic Commissioner directed that the record should more accurately refer to them as being carried out in-house, at six-weekly intervals. The in-house maintenance facilities consist of several bays equipped with mobile column lifts. The operator had also invested in a roller brake tester, but it was not being used beyond annual test or occasional voluntary checks at the time of inspection; an external auditor had apparently advised the operator that it had to be calibrated every month, instead of six-monthly.
The licence was granted subject to restrictions regarding the size and type of vehicle to be operated. The operator had appeared at a preliminary hearing on 5 May 2022 before Deputy Traffic Commissioner Baker and had accepted an undertaking that it would be subject of a compliance audit in October of that year. It subsequently undertook to arrange a further audit in May 2023.
The PI, held by Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt, took place on 23 October in Cambridge. The operator was represented by Managing Director Melvyn Cooke, accompanied by General Manager Geoffrey Martin and Danny Eastland, the current Transport Manager. Megan Cooke did not attend. The TC noted that a letter dated 26 September 2023 was apparently sent to the Licensing Team, suggesting that Ms Cooke would not attend the hearing and that she no longer wished to be considered for a role as Transport Manager, a decision which was said to be a matter of contention within the family.
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