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Staffordshire HGV firm owner banned after crash left pedestrian with life-changing injuries

By Jack Averty | Penkridge | News | Published:

The director of an 'extraordinarily negligent' Staffordshire HGV firm that knowingly operated seriously unroadworthy vehicles, one of which caused a crash and life changing injuries for a pedestrian, has been banned from operating for eight years.

The HGV involved in the crash, which caused life changing injuries, was found to have 18 defects and has been described by an expert as one of the 'top ten worst' he had ever seen in 30 years.

Nick Denton, the region’s traffic commissioner, concluded that Gavin Bentley, the sole director of Midland Poling Services, based at Lower Drayton Farm in Penkridge, took 'little interest' in the safety of his company’s HGVs and said the firm had a culture where vehicle safety was 'routinely ignored'.

The industry regulator added that the firm, which put up and replaced telegraph poles for telecommunications companies, deserved to go out of business, and he revoked its operating licence.

Mr Denton said: “Mr Bentley’s attitude in the inquiry was of a man who had been let down by those around him – his supervisor, his maintainer, his driver. It does not seem to have occurred to him that the responsibility lies with him as director and that he wholly failed to establish the necessary culture of safety within the company.”

Midland Poling was the subject of a police investigation in September 2016 when one of its vehicles was involved in a serious collision in Falmouth, on the Cornwall coast, that left a pedestrian with life-changing injuries.

During April's inquiry, held in Birmingham, Mr Denton heard about an investigation carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) after the Falmouth crash.

An examiner reported numerous issues with the company’s maintenance procedures, including that regular vehicle safety inspections were not being completed on time and defects identified on vehicles were not being acted upon. The DVSA officer also issued a critical safety notice to one of the vehicles because of mechanical defects.

A police vehicle examiner who examined the HGV after the 2016 crash told the traffic commissioner it was in the top ten worst he had seen in his 30 year career. 18 safety related defects were found on the vehicle.

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He also concluded the defects identified on the vehicle were present before the incident and it represented a significant danger both to the other road users and the driver.

Mr Denton found the company had been 'extraordinarily negligent', adding: “This negligence was particularly evidenced by the fact that in November 2016, more than two months after the collision involving the seriously defective vehicle, the vehicle examiner issued an S-marked prohibition to another vehicle for some of the same issues which had been found on the vehicle involved in the collision (loose suspension bolts, leaking exhaust, ABS fault).

“The failures stemmed from a systematic failure by the company to treat maintenance with the seriousness it deserved.”

Mr Bentley's eight year ban takes effect from Saturday May 13.

Jack Averty

By Jack Averty
Senior Reporter - @javerty_star

Reporter with the Express & Star, based at head office in Wolverhampton

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