National milk chain and delivery firms that overloaded dangerous vans and tried to circumvent O-licensing laws have been hit with huge fines.

In a DVSA-led operation, three operators and 25 drivers were found guilty of overloading, driving defective vehicles and also driving vehicles that had been banned from being used.
One van was found to be two tonnes overweight and roadworthiness issues included defective brakes, bald tyres, broken springs and damaged body panelling.

Some vehicles that had attracted immediate prohibitions had previously been issued with prohibitions and so were being used with known defects.

The DVSA commenced a targeted operation in December 2022 of 11 road checks over nine days at various sites across the country.

Nearly all the vehicles stopped were either overloaded or overloaded with a mechanical defect.
It said that due to the weight of milk, smaller refrigerated vehicles are generally considered unsuitable and the goods should be transported by HGVs.

Starling Distribution Services has now been ordered to pay £205,660, made up of £142,160 in fines, costs of £31,900 and victim surcharges of £31,600.

Freshways was ordered to pay £54,179 and Medina Capital Dairy Company was ordered to pay an overall total of £15,300.

One of the drivers caught by the enforcement agency, Vinaykumar Jashbai Patel, a director of Starling Distribution Services, was fined £2,098.

Others were issued with smaller fines and points on their licences.

Marian Kitson, DVSA director of enforcement, said: “This involved significant coordination across many of my enforcement teams, to ensure these companies had no place to hide. 
“We target operators who try to undercut the competition by cutting corners on safety or using the wrong type of vehicle.

“We will not hesitate to take further action should they choose to operate like this again.”