Overloaded wine delivery van lands firm in court

A wine merchant and its driver have been ordered to pay more than £2,300 after one of its delivery vans was found to be massively overloaded.

York-based Field and Fawcett Wine Merchants and Delicatessen Ltd’s driver Simon Thomas Lazenby was travelling in County Durham making deliveries ahead of Christmas when his vehicle was subject to a routine check by officers from Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary.

The Mercedes Benz was found to be more than 30 per cent overloaded on its rear axle and just under that figure overall, resulting in the prosecution of both the company and the driver by the council.

Newton Aycliffe magistrates on Wednesday heard how council trading standards officers and police were carrying out checks at a weighbridge on the A181 at Wellfield on December 14 last year.

The Sprinter van being driven by Lazenby, 44 of Main Street, Barmby Moor near York, was weighed as part of the checks.

Its rear axle weighed 2,930kg – 680kg or 30.2 per cent above the maximum weight set out by the vehicle manufacturer of 2,250kg.

The van’s total weight was 4,530kg, 1,030kg or 29.4 per cent over the manufacturer’s maximum of 3,500kg.

The company, which is based on a farm at Grimston Bar, and Lazenby, were each charged by the council with two offences – of exceeding the rear axle weight and the overall weight.

Guilty pleas were entered to all matters.

The court was told the company accepted full responsibility for the van being overloaded and that it was a ‘one off’ incident.

Magistrates heard the firm makes weekly deliveries to the North East and had received large orders from two new customers for its December 14 journey which caught if off guard.

The company had not wanted to let customers down at such an important trading period and as Lazenby had been comfortable with the way the van was handling they had wrongly assumed it was not overloaded.

In a letter to magistrates, Lazenby stated that the firm now brings in temporary drivers during busy trading periods to ensure delivery vehicles are not overloaded.

The company was fined £1,410, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £141 and costs of £253.65 – a total of £1,804.65.

Lazenby was fined £532, with a victim surcharge of £53 – a total of £585.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Weight restrictions on vehicles are in place for a very good reason – to ensure the safety of all road users.

“While we appreciate this company did not want to let its customers down, allowing this vehicle on to the road so vastly overloaded could have resulted in the vehicle failing mid journey, potentially causing an accident.

“Your vehicle’s weight limits should be displayed in your owner’s manual and the financial penalties imposed in this case should serve as a warning about what can happen if you exceed them.”