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Eastbourne Public Inquiries

Public Inquiries in Eastbourne, London and the South East

The Traffic Commissioner for the South East of England Traffic Area is based in Eastbourne at Ivy House on Ivy Terrace, a stones throw from the town’s railway station. Despite Eastbourne being one of the most awkward places to get to, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OFT) has been based here for many years.

The Traffic Commissioner is currently Sarah Bell as from the 1st November 2016.

Most public inquiries in the South East of England for goods and passenger vehicle operator licence holders take place in Eastbourne. A proportion of them are held at venues away from Eastbourne with many done in central London locations such as Breams Buildings near Chancery Lane, the TLF building in Blackfriars or a location near to Victoria Station.

Public inquiries are called by the Traffic Commissioner for two main reasons. The first is whether an application for an operators licence (or to change an existing one) needs to be considered at a formal hearing. Secondly (and this is what the majority of public inquiries relates to) where operator licence holders face disciplinary action for alleged breaches of the law, contraventions of the conditions on their operators licence or similar misdeeds.

You can find out more about the public inquiry process on our page called About Public Inquiries. Basically, a public inquiry is a formal legal hearing set up a bit like a court or tribunal. Evidence, witnesses and legal arguments all take place and a formal legally binding decision is made by the Traffic Commissioner.

The Traffic Commisisoner’s office at Eastbourne deals with all public inquiries within the London and South East of England Traffic Area.

The London and South East of England Traffic Area

The South East of England Traffic Area covers most of what is generally known as the South East of England. It includes nearly all of the area within the M25, Greater London and the counties of Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex.

The following towns and cities all fall within the London and South East Traffic Area : London itself, Dartford, Gravesend, Croydon, Madestone, Guildford, Crawley, Aldershot, Tonbridge, Tunbidge Wells, Brighton, Worthing, Bognor Regis, Chichester, Sevenoaks, Horsham, Bexhill, Hastings, Folkestone, Ashford, Dover, Canterbury, Ramsgate, Margate and Sittingbourne.

There are 1,130 passenger vehicle operator licences and 9,200 goods vehicle licences issued within the London and South East Traffic Area.

Public Inquiries in Eastbourne

Public inquiries take place in a court room on the fourth floor of Ivy House in Eastbourne. The hearings will be presided over by the Traffic Commissioner himself or a deputy.

In the year 2014/2015 there were a total of 303 goods vehicle and 49 passenger vehicle public inquiries in the London and South East of England Traffic Area.

Of the goods vehicle public inquiries, 205 of them were to consider disciplinary action and 97 for considering applications. 29 of the passenger vehicle public inquiries were for application to be decided and 20 for disciplinary action.

Outcomes of Goods Vehicle (HGV) Public Inquiries in the South East of England

Result of disciplinary public inquiries :

From 205 goods vehicle public inquiries called for disciplinary action, 51, about a quarter of them, ended with the operators licence being revoked. 64 goods vehicle licences were suspended and 43 were curtailed. Only 12 (less than 6%) resulted in no action taken.

Result of applications heard at public inquiry :

97 goods vehicle applications were dealt with at public inquiries over the course of the year. Nineteen were refused outright and 67 were granted.

The outcome of passenger vehicle public inquiries in the South East of England

The result of disciplinary public inquiries for passenger vehicle operator licences was as follows:

Out of 29 public inquiries for disciplinary action, 5 ended with the operators licence revoked, 6 were suspended and 5 had their vehicle numbers reduced. Only 8 out of the 29 resulted in no action being taken.

Result of applications heard at public inquiry :

There were 20 passenger vehicle applications dealt with at public inquiry. Six were refused outright. Only 8, 40% of these, were granted in full.

What to do if you've been called to a public inquiry in Eastbourne, London or the South East

First of all, recognise that any public inquiry called for any reason is a very serious thing. Secondly recognise that getting legal advice and having an experienced transport law solicitor on your side is at least half of the problem sorted.

A good transport law specialist solicitor will be able to get stuck into your case and do all sorts of things to get you ready to face the Traffic Commissioner and come away with a good outcome.

We strongly recommend that you speak to us urgently if you've had a call to public inquiry. Nearly all of our clients (well over 90%) have a successful outcome at their public inquiries.

We regularly handle public inquiries in Eastbourne, London and the South East and know exactly how to prepare and present a successful case. We've been doing it for years and have helped hundreds of operators through what is always a very difficult and uncertain time.

Your chance of a successful outcome at your public inquiry increases dramatically if you have experienced and skilled legal representation. So choosing a good transport solicitor is of vital importance.

Please call Simon Newman on 01302 775522 or email him on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I will be very glad to talk through your situation and review your papers free of charge to enable you to make an informed decision about what to do.

 

CONTACT US ABOUT YOUR PUBLIC INQUIRY

Please get in touch with us without charge or obligation.

Contact us today and we'll give you an idea about how we might be able to help you. We will be very glad to talk through your situation and review your papers free of charge to help you to make an informed decision about what to do.

You can call us any time on 0800 1777 522 or alternatively you can email us or make a Free Online Enquiry


Call us for free on 0800 1777 522


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Latest Blogs

We recently represented two companies who were both called to the same public inquiry. Although separate entities, the companies were closely connected because of having the same set of directors. One...
We were approached by a small business owner to represent them at the a public inquiry which had been called to consider their application for a new passenger vehicle operator’s licence.The person app...
The current system of regulating goods vehicle operations throughout Northern Ireland came into effect in 2012. The system for licensing goods vehicles and taking disciplinary action against licence h...

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Latest Transport Law

Transport Law
We recently represented two companies who were both called to the same public inquiry. Although separate entities, the companies were closely connected because of having the same set of directors. One of the companies (the Operator) had years previously been issued with a restricted goods vehicle operator’s licence. The other company had recently applied for the same kind of licence (the Applicant).

Over the previous year, the directors had decided to progressively move most of the Operator’s business interests to its sister company the Applicant. Without understanding the potential consequences, and before being granted its operator’s licence, the Applicant began using the Operator’s heavy goods vehicle. The Operator company had not informed the Traffic Commissioner (TC) of its change in business arrangements and of the apparent change of entity (though the companies were actually wholly owned subsidiaries of another company – see below).

The Public Inquiry was convened because of changes at this business group and a fundamental misunderstanding of the operator’s licence regime, and that there had been what appeared to be a change of entity involving the companies.

The TC needed to be satisfied as to whether the companies were not unfit to hold an operator’s licence due to relevant activities and convictions, and about the events relating to a change in the circumstances of the licence holder. The Operator risked revocation of its licence. The Applicant was at risk of not having its licence granted.

In advance of the inquiry, and to start building their case, we obtained as much information as we could about the businesses and provided each company comprehensive legal advice. We examined the companies’ compliance systems and made recommendations about immediate and longer-term changes that needed to be implemented. On our recommendations, the companies invested time and resources into their maintenance and other systems

As a result of our preliminary work and advice, the companies were fully prepared for the public inquiry hearing. In particular, to answer questions and provide evidence about the apparent change of entity.

At the hearing we demonstrated that the companies were running professional and competent businesses. With specific reference to the issue of the apparent change of entity, the TC accepted that Section 3(4) of the Goods vehicle (licencing of operators) Act 1995 was relevant and that this was not a typical “change of entity” case – because of the companies being subsidiaries. We were able to persuade the TC that the issues that lead to the inquiry arose out of ignorance rather than an attempt to mislead or gain financial advantage

The TC granted the new licence to the Applicant with the Operator company voluntarily surrendering its licence. The directors were delighted with the outcome of the public inquiry hearing and that they managed to avoid the damaging consequences they feared.
Transport Law

We were approached by a small business owner to represent them at the a public inquiry which had been called to consider their application for a new passenger vehicle operator’s licence.

The person applying for the licence had a long background of work in the transport industry as a driver but had never before operated his own transport business. One of the key issues was that the nominated transport manager was also nominated some other licences and the Traffic Commissioner was concerned whether this meant that the transport manager would be able to properly carry out their duties on so many licences at once. 

Transport Law
The current system of regulating goods vehicle operations throughout Northern Ireland came into effect in 2012. The system for licensing goods vehicles and taking disciplinary action against licence holders is now largely in line with the system for the rest of the United Kingdom, though with some differences. There are about 5,980 goods vehicle operator licences issued in Northern Ireland.

The legislation is the same and the appeal process against decisions made at public inquiries is now one system covering the whole of the UK.

One key difference is that in Northern Ireland there are no Traffic Commissioners. The person in Northern Ireland who discharges similar functions to the Traffic Commissioners in Great Britain is the head of the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU), part of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment. The current head of the TRU is Donna Knowles who has been in this position since 2014.

It is the Head of the TRU who ultimately decides who is fit to hold a goods vehicle operators licence in Northern Ireland. The Head of the TRU holds public inquiries to determine whether an operators licence should be granted and also to decide whether disciplinary action is needed against operator licence holders whose fitness has been brought into question.

There are roughly about 50 goods vehicle public inquiries in Northern Ireland each year. The public inquiry hearings are usually held at Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street in Belfast.

The public inquiry hearing itself is a formal legal hearing. It looks and feels a little like a court hearing but the rules of procedure are less rigid and formal. The public inquiry hearing will involve oral and documentary evidence and at the end of the process the Head of the TRU will make a decision.

Currently, the public inquiry process in Northern Ireland relates only to goods vehicle licence holders, it does not involve passenger vehicle licences.

Outcomes of Goods Vehicle Public Inquiries in Belfast

The Heard of the TRU has wide ranging powers over operator licence holders. Where a public inquiry is convened to decide whether or not to grant a new licence, the licence could be granted or refused.

Where the public inquiry is to consider disciplinary action against an operator licence holder, the Head of the TRU has the power to revoke (ie terminate) an operators licence; to suspend it or reduce the number of vehicle operated under the licence. They have the power to add conditions to an operators licence and to disqualify people from being involved in holding an operators licence in future.

What to do if you've been called to a public inquiry in Eastbourne, London or the South East

First of all, recognise that any public inquiry called for any reason is a very serious thing. Secondly recognise that getting legal advice and having an experienced transport law solicitor on your side is at least half of the problem sorted.

A good transport law specialist solicitor will be able to get stuck into your case and do all sorts of important things to get you ready to face the public inquiry and come away with a good outcome.

We strongly recommend that you speak to us urgently if you've had a call to public inquiry. Nearly all of our clients (well over 90%) have a successful outcome at their public inquiries.

We handle public inquiries in Belfast as well all over the UK. We know how to prepare and present a successful case. We've been doing it for years and have helped hundreds of operators through what is always a very difficult and uncertain time.

Your chance of a successful outcome at your public inquiry increases dramatically if you have experienced and skilled legal representation. So choosing a good transport solicitor is of vital importance.

Contact Us About Your Public Inquiry

Please get in touch with us without charge or obligation. Ask to speak to Simon Newman about your public inquiry.

Simon will then give you an idea about how we can help you. He will be very glad to talk through your situation and review your papers free of charge to help you to make an informed decision about what to do.

You can call us any time on 0800 1777 522 or alternatively you can email on Simon.Newman@NALegal.co.uk