Fleet News

OTC focuses on reducing operator licence applications to 35 working days

Richard Turfitt

Reducing the time it takes to processing operator licence applications to 35 working days is a key target for the Office of Transport Commissioners (OTC).

Senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt (pictured) told delegates at the Fleet200 Executive Club meeting at Mercure Brandon Hall Hotel, Brandon, Coventry, the current wait is 38 working days.

He said he does want to see any applications outstanding for more than six months when it’s in control of the OTC.

Turfitt added: “This does happen and we can go beyond six months where, for instance, somebody is being investigated by the police.

“A criminal investigation can take a very long time. We are not going to power ahead with public inquiries which may jeopardise criminal proceedings.

“We’ve got to protect the rights of the defendant as well as the prosecution.”

He added: “As traffic commissioners, we have demanded monthly reports from the DVSA on any outstanding application.

“Each individual commissioner gets hold of these schedules, looks at the records and says ‘what’s going on here? I want action now’.

“We’ve been very successful. We’ve shrunk the size of the schedules significantly within a matter of six months.

“From next month we are going to ask for schedules of anything outstanding for more than four months, and we are going to start pushing and drilling down to start to move things quicker.”

Plans the OTC has include:

  • Reviewing processes to achieve an average application time of 35 working days, down from its current 38
  • Reducing the time taken between OTC making the call to hold a public inquiry to the hearing taking place to 12 weeks
  • Improve transparency of the income and expenditure of the fees so that income is used for operator licencing services.

Turfitt added: “We need to look at the standard of evidence and this is where we do rely on the enforcement agencies to help us.

“I can only take action against rogue operators once I’ve got the evidence. I hear whispers, but I can’t do anything on a whisper. I can’t even do anything on information.

“I have to have it in a form I can disclose to the person facing action. Anonymous information is very difficult, it may prompt inquiries, but it means I’m heavily reliant on DVSA and the examiners do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances at times.

“I have to have grounds for calling people in and the grounds are based on evidence and that takes some skill to collect sometimes.

“It’s also important that those who are investigating don’t just look for the evidence that points away from that, but could mitigate, or explain, or maybe shows they are not guilty.”

Last year the OTC held 873 public inquiries, with 314 licence revocations, 137 suspended, 267 curtailed, 103 disqualifications of operators/directors, and 139 disqualifications of transport managers.

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