THE owners of a waste collection firm have been banned from running heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) for 25 years.

“Rogue” business partners Andrew and Elizabeth Hughes, who ran Wasteaters in Prestatyn, were issued with the ban by Nick Jones, Traffic Commissioner for Wales, after engaging in “deliberate sustained illegal activity” and for their “serious dishonesty and total disregard for the law”.

The case was deemed “appalling” by Mr Jones. Examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) found a number of offences relating to vehicles being operated; some vehicles at the firm had serious defects, no MOT and were untaxed. In some cases, vehicles were also unregistered and uninsured.

Mr Hughes and Mrs Hughes had their licence to operate HGVs revoked following a public inquiry. Neither partner attended the inquiry, which heard evidence about their operation of commercial vehicles.

In a written judgement, Mr Jones said: “I need to disqualify both partners for a very long period of time as this is an appalling case by any standards. Anything other than a very long disqualification will send totally the wrong message to compliant operators and industry.”

In evidence to the public inquiry, DVSA traffic examiner Jonathan Woodward said that during his 12 years in the role he had never seen a more “blatant, consistent, comprehensive and wide ranging disregard” for road safety and legislation.

One of the drivers, Christopher Jones of Prestatyn, was also disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for 18 months.

Mr Jones that he was unaware of what was going on until stopped by the DVSA. On ringing his boss to ask for advice and notify that he had been stopped by the DVSA, he was told to not give any information, "to walk away and to abandon the vehicle”.

Mr Jones admitted that this could not be correct practice, but claimed that he did as told by his employer as a result of pressure.

The Traffic Commissioner for Wales remarked that Andrew Hughes and Elizabeth Hughes were “rogues”.

“There has been deliberate and sustained illegal activity from this operator,” he added.

“The partnership has sought to obtain a significant competitive advantage as a result of exceptionally serious failures to comply with regulatory regimes.”