We are delighted to have the former Senior TC Beverley Bell CBE as our guest blogger; read her first ever blog about O licence compliance here:


“What an unusual title” I hear you say. “What is she on about? How is that relevant to my lorries?” All will become clear.


First, what is the maze? Here’s a clue – maintenance, drivers’ hours, tachographs, working time directive, health and safety – need I go on? You get the picture.

Now, “what’s the monster?” Easy. A parked-up lorry on the M6 and the consequent loss of an important customer. Some pesky enforcement officer has stopped one of your vehicles when it’s pouring down with rain and given them prohibitions for defective tyres and windscreen wipers – and to rub salt into the wound has given them an S marking as your driver should have noticed them on his daily walk round check but he didn’t.

But that is only half the monster – the other (just as scary) half is your irate customer on the phone demanding to know where his delivery is and threatening loss of your contract.

You may think, “My drivers would never do that – they like working for me because I look after them so they would never let me down”.

Are you sure? Do you know if they actually do their checks every time or just pretend?

“Ah” you say, “that’s what the transport manager and/or compliance team is there for. I pay them good money to do their job properly”.

But how do you know they are doing it properly?  You don’t have eyes in the back of your head and you can’t be in two places at once – lurking in a dark corner of the depot surreptitiously watching your driver check his nuts (on his wheels of course!) You’re busy on the phone to your irate customer or seeing the VAT man who has just turned up unannounced saying he wants to rifle through your papers and accounts right now.

So how do you slay the monster of non-compliance? Well an easy way is to stick your head in the maze and have a quick look at it (just to get an overall picture of how scary it is) and then retreat as fast as possible.

That’s a bit like an audit.  A quick look, a snapshot of what is wrong with your business on a particular day. And there are so many types of audit that choosing the right one is like a lottery.

You could get an “external” auditor in. Take your pick, life is a lottery anyway. Transport consultant, trade association, independent analyst, that bloke your mate used when he was up before the TC – he helped him save his licence. Who to choose and how to choose them?

Or you could do it internally. “Simples” as the meerkats say – let’s just get the compliance teams and managers to audit each other. That will be great for that team building exercise you had been planning one day but never got around to. Asking your staff to grass each other up? No problem – I am sure they will be delighted to.

You know maybe a quick “one off” audit is not such a good idea.

“OK” you say wearily. “It’s been a long day. I give in. I will just have to slay the damn thing and then you can stop nagging me. What should I do?”

You have had a piece of luck. A beautiful princess happened to turn up at your depot just as you walked in – a pure vision of loveliness holding out a ball of thread.

“That’s no good to me love”, you object, “I run trucks. I need steel and wire and metal and macho manly things – not some stupid ball of cotton.”

“Take it” I say. “It’s not cotton, it’s silk. Get on into the maze and take the silk thread with you – with it you can navigate your way through safely”.

Off you go holding the ball of thread. As you navigate the maze you start off afraid of the overwhelming darkness and the terrible hidden issues lurking round every corner, but as you reach the centre you suddenly realise you know how to slay the monster. The answer has been in your hands all the time. Eureka! Not just management, not just an audit – why not combine the two?!

“God, I’m brilliant” you tell yourself. “The answer is SilkThread®”

With SilkThread® O Licence, your own staff at each depot can upload their own compliance evidence to the cloud via a software package to prove their compliance. You save time and expense for your transport manager and/or compliance team and that improves your bottom line. Each depot takes ownership of its own responsibilities. The data is recorded for all time rather than in someone’s head.

When the transport manager or someone in the compliance team is on holiday you can still access the information at each depot. You receive regular email notifications of your compliance so you can take swift action if needed. And best of all you can easily and quickly monitor how your different depots are doing from whichever exotic location in the world you happen to be in at the time (OK you realise your imagination is now starting to run a bit wild as you only operate from Wigan but you can always dream of a hub in Puerto Banus). And why not provide incentives for your top performing depot of the month or year as well as harmonising procedures that might vary? So much better for your staff than asking them to grass each other up.

But that nagging doubt speaks back at you. “That’s all very well” you hear it say. “Sounds expensive. You’re just a poor haulier running on tight profit margins. Is it worth it?”

“My choice” you hear yourself say back. “I can buy peace of mind for £9 a week per depot. A few pounds a month for peace of mind – my insurance policy against any more unnecessary PG9s or DVSA investigations or going from green to red on OCRS.  That equates to 4 café lattes a week and the system is calorie free so I get to save 540 calories a week and before long I will be looking even more gorgeous than I do now (OK I might have to ditch the summer sandals and socks look but that is no great sacrifice). Nagging doubt retorts “Or you could do a Georgie Best and spend it on fast cars, fast women and alcohol and squander the rest. Up to you”.

You are strong, you are resolute, you have slain the monster and you are on your way home.

You grasp hold of your ball of silk thread and follow the trail you left on your way into the maze. You amaze yourself – how could something that once seemed so difficult and frightening now seem so easy? You realise it is because SilkThread® is guiding you and showing you the way. You realise you will live to fight another day and deliver even more goods to even more customers. Who knows you might even be able to expand your business and increase your fleet as your overheads have come down and your customers are paying more quickly for the better service they are receiving as well as recommending you to others. Maybe that hub in Puerto Banus is not so far-fetched after all!

So, dear reader now you know some of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is your call whether you choose to acquire your own SilkThread® to guide you through the maze of compliance or continue to ignore the monster of hidden issues and lurking enforcement officers hoping they will never raise their head in your business.

I know which I would choose.

And as for me – I’m off on holiday – a Mediterranean break somewhere off the Aegean Sea sounds good to me………………

Copyright Beverley Bell 2017 ©