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A company whose directors have “a long history of failed road haulage companies behind them” has been refused an operator’s licence, according to a report by traffic commissioner Nick Dent, published this week.

The report revealed that director Ian Newman of REL Haulage applied for a licence for 50 vehicles and 50 trailers as part of plans to take on some of the profitable work of Upminster haulier BB Transport, which was about to be liquidated, and Peterborough-based REL Storage and Logistics.

However an OTC investigation into the backgrounds of those involved in REL Haulage’s application revealed a trail of failed companies.

REL Investments owner Andy Scott, who provided the finance for REL Haulage, had previously been a director of REL Capital, REL Coffee, Dover Interiors and Woodcraft Tower Hotel, which had all been dissolved following compulsory strike off, and Oxford Hotel Management and Woodcraft Hotel Bournemouth which had both entered liquidation.

The OTC also found that Adam Lewis, the director of BB Transport and REL Storage and Logistics had also been a director of Bison Transport, which entered liquidation in February 2020 and Roadways Express which entered liquidation in October 2020.

At the public inquiry in Cambridge on 10 December Lewis argued that as a turnaround specialist it was “unsurprising” that occasionally some of his companies would fail, and pointed to turnaround success stories, including Davian Coaches and Boarhunt.

However the TC noted that Davian Coaches had entered liquidation in November 2021 with debts of over £300,000, with another company REL Davian, continuing the coach business.

The PI also heard that Lewis has been strongly criticised by the liquidator of one of his previous companies, Roadways Express, for failing to cooperate with her investigations.

Andy Scott told the PI he was an offshore investor, using his vehicle REL Capital to help save struggling businesses and was proud to have saved over 500 jobs in the past five years.

He added that REL Haulage aimed to bring together the profitable elements of several distressed haulage companies as a long-term investment.

The PI was heard that REL Haulage had already started running HGVs despite not having an operating licence, with the company agreeing it had “jumped the gun”.

Summing up, Denton said: “Andy Scott and Adam Lewis have a long history of failed road haulage companies behind them – companies that enter liquidation owing large sums of money to HMRC and other creditors.

“They hive off the profitable parts into new companies, leaving creditors of the old companies high and dry.

“A similar intention lies behind the application from REL Haulage: it is intended to be a vehicle for the profitable parts of REL Storage and Transport, leaving the rest of the company to go into liquidation owing money."

He also criticised Lewis’ decision to show him a letter, sent to REL Storage and Transport employees, on the day of the PI, notifying them that they may face redundancy as a result of the TC’s decision to refuse REL Transport a licence. He condemned the move as a “repugnant attempt to influence my decision and not the act of a reputable company”.

In his report, published this week, Denton concluded: “REL Haulage and the people behind it are not of good repute and are not a business or people in whom I could have any trust.

“It is just the latest domino in the series of failed companies overseen by Messrs Scott and Lewis. Mr Newman is a front man but has no skin of his own in the game.

“I am therefore refusing the application by REL Haulage on the grounds that the company lacks the necessary good repute.”