A MIDLANDS businessman has been disqualified from operating trucks indefinitely after encouraging drivers to work excessive hours and jeopardise road safety.

Stephen Holding’s companies S P Holding Tractor Hire Ltd and S P Holding Services Ltd – which have a subsidiary in Stourbridge – also lost their licences to run vehicles following a ruling by Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones.

Holding was also told by the industry regulator that he could never be trusted to be involved in the licensing system again and that his lack of regard for the safety of drivers and the general public “beggars belief”.

His unlawful activities, the regulator noted, had given him a “very significant commercial advantage” and led to employees undertaking sustained driving whilst obviously tired, adding he was “fortunate no one was killed given the scope and scale of offending”.

In one case, driver Michael Ridgway worked for 72 hours without any sufficient break.

Earlier this year, Holding was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to various offences.

The sentencing note said employees drove dangerously long hours and falsified their records to hide their criminal activities. It added that Holding expected drivers to work excessive hours and break the law.

The traffic commissioner, issuing a written decision after holding a regulatory public inquiry into the offending, concluded Holding was not to be trusted.

Mr Jones said: “The sentencing note is not a description of an isolated incident, it is of wholesale criminality and describes how Stephen Holding’s greed led to a train of events that included the ruin of businesses and of many people’s lives.

“There are many fine operators that did not obtain lucrative contracts due to Stephen Holding’s activities. The lack of regard to the safety of drivers and the general public on the road network beggars belief.

“The scope and scale of the offending is such that it is fortunate indeed that no one was killed as a result of the sustained driving whilst obviously tired. The drivers’ hours rules exist for a very good reason, namely road safety.”

Holding’s companies, which includes a subsidiary based in Lutley Lane, secured work with Severn Trent Water, McCain Foods and local authorities.

The traffic commissioner revoked the operator licences held by S P Holding Tractor Hire Ltd and S P Holding Services Ltd with immediate effect.

He disqualified Holding from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence indefinitely.

Two transport managers, Brian Moss and Paul Sankey, were also disqualified from acting in that role, for three years and 18 months respectively.

Michael Ridgway, who held an operator’s licence in his own name, was also disqualified from holding or obtaining another licence for five years. His licence was revoked at the same time. The traffic commissioner also took action against his professional driving licence, suspending his vocational entitlement until January 1, 2017.

Alongside the offences he committed while driving for Holding, the traffic commissioner heard that Ridgway had been convicted in December 2015 for dumping two tanker loads of sewage in Carterton, West Oxfordshire.

He was ordered to pay fines and compensation in excess of £11,000. Further convictions sustained by Ridgway included the misuse of a fuel card and for using a goods vehicle without an MOT certificate.

The industry regulator added: “It is abundantly clear that Michael Ridgway does not have the necessary good repute to hold an operator’s licence and for the avoidance of doubt, had his convictions been properly disclosed when he originally applied, it is highly unlikely, if not inconceivable, that a licence would not have been granted.”