Road Haulage Association

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Tag Archives: Deliver UK

Deliver UK: long list of concerns

The price of oil and the high level of duty continue to cause high fuel prices in the UK, which bring many challenges for RHA members. With RHA support FairFuel UK will continue to campaign, building on the substantial foundations established in the first three months of this year.

A key element of the success of that campaign was the significant number of MPs (over 140) who signed up to support our aims and it was very encouraging to hear that quite a few RHA members had written, e-mailed or met their MP. The next step is to build on that by consolidating the contact made and widening the agenda to cover the many other issues that the road haulage industry wants to see addressed.

In broad outline, and in no particular order, our campaigning is being taken forward in respect of standards and enforcement, vehicle utilisation and efficiency, roads and congestion, customer and modal choice, parking and security, carbon measurement and reporting and reducing red tape. The detail takes up many pages, but these are all issues that must be addressed if the commercial and regulatory environment in which we operate is to be improved.

One encouraging point is the sympathetic hearing we are receiving from the government. Across departments, particularly the Departments for Transport and Business Innovation and Skills, we are gathering clear evidence of the problems and explaining practical solutions that address concerns in both industry and government. We are not going to get our own way in every case, but well constructed arguments supported by established facts can and will win the day.

With that in mind, it was a pleasure to welcome Mike Penning, the Minister for Freight, who accepted an RHA invitation to attend the recent Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC and to visit a number of exhibitors. The show was a great success, with a substantial increase in exhibition space and visitor numbers compared with last year’s CV Operators’ Show.

It was also a real pleasure to see so many members on our stand and to chat with them about their concerns and views. We also welcomed a wide range of people, including a small delegation from Australia, including the chief executive of the Victorian Trucking Association and the organiser of the International Truck Trailer and Equipment Show, which takes place in Melbourne. They were very impressed by everything they saw and heard: a real compliment from genuinely independent observers. It was a great three days and we really look forward to next year.

RHA and members: a powerful team

As I write this, the price of fuel is very close to the all-time high of £1.09 pence per litre plus VAT reached in January 2008. Oil prices have risen in the last two weeks, so it is likely that the price of diesel will have risen further by the time you read this.

The RHA has joined with the FTA in supporting FairFuelUK, a campaign that is intended to press the government to drop plans to increase duty by about three pence per litre in April – the actual increase is one pence plus inflation, whatever that might be at the time – and to introduce some sort of mechanism that brings stability to fuel prices. Some may argue that we are fighting a losing battle, as the government is in severe financial difficulty and needs every penny of tax that it can get, but we do not agree.

Our position is based on the fact that the haulage industry needs to be recognised for the key part it plays in the UK economy and that pushing our costs higher and higher, through both oil price increases and fuel duty rises, simply adds to the problems that the economy faces, making recovery less likely and slower.

We all know that the price of fuel is not the only problem we face. If the diesel price was to drop dramatically, customers would quickly be calling for rates to be reduced – as some contracts do automatically. Some sectors of the haulage industry already face severe competition against the many foreign trucks that travel our roads, who do not pay a penny towards their development and maintenance, and use fuel that is not taxed to anywhere near the same level as that sold in the UK. And we all know there are far too many hauliers who are even now prepared to slash rates in a desperate attempt to keep their wheels moving, and even to keep their business afloat for a bit longer before the inevitable insolvency.

The RHA has never lobbied, and will never campaign, solely on the subject of fuel prices, but this issue is at the top of most people’s agenda now, so we make no apology for trying to persuade the government that an ever-increasing price for diesel will damage the UK. We have been urging politicians and officials to respond and wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer before Christmas drawing this issue to his attention and looking for action.

What can you do? Please go to website: http://www.fairfueluk.com and sign the online petition. Please ask all your friends, family and business contacts to do the same. Also, please get in touch with your MPs and tell them just how much damage the high price of fuel will do to your business and to the economy. Together, the RHA and its members have a very powerful voice and now is the perfect time to make it heard.

FEBRUARY 2011

Working with government

It was a real pleasure to see the Secretary of State for Transport visiting our offices in Weybridge. As our local MP, we had already met Philip Hammond at a constituency event, but his acceptance of an invitation to visit the RHA and to be interviewed for ROADWAY gave us an opportunity to question one of the key decision-makers for our industry.

One refreshing aspect of his comments was the way that he readily acknowledged an old-fashioned view of the industry when he took up his post. More important was his recognition, having met hauliers, that ours is an industry which is often cutting edge and sophisticated and plays a key role in the UK economy. Such a change in opinion only comes from exposure to the realities of the modern road haulage industry, and we were delighted when he made the point that getting in touch with local MPs is a very effective way of lobbying.

This is why the RHA is developing Deliver UK, which will encourage members to get involved in a comprehensive programme designed to change the attitude of MPs and government.

The Transport Secretary made it very clear that the industry must embrace the concept of being “green”. Given that the vast majority of CO2 emissions in our sector come from using diesel fuel, there is little doubt that the “greening” of road haulage can be a win-win situation: burning less diesel means cost savings as well as producing less CO2.

We have seen some of the big players in the industry claiming to be green, and their contracts often impose similar obligations further down the supply chain. But how much of this is window dressing? How many times do so-called green companies force hauliers into inefficient operations for their own convenience? How many loads are shipped when the vehicle is well below capacity for spurious health and safety reasons? How many times is the transfer of freight from road to rail a glorified publicity stunt, which actually produces more CO2, not less?

We know there is a need to produce less CO2, but please can we have a degree of common sense? Can we have less box-ticking and more real action that genuinely does see the win-win situations that benefit hauliers as well as their customers?

Finally, it was also reassuring to hear that Mr Hammond is progressing with plans to level the playing field when it comes to foreign trucks. We hope that such a scheme does not affect the huge sections of our industry that do not face foreign competition. We also hope that the government does not overlook the fact that the compliance standards of foreign firms often falls way behind the UK operator. That is just as important to the level playing field as a road-user charge.

DECEMBER 2010

Deliver UK: make a difference

Over the past ten years or so, many RHA members have written to MPs using
standard letters prepared by the RHA. More often than not, the response has been lukewarm to say the least and, as a result, there is widespread cynicism about the effectiveness of contacting your MP.

The time has come to change that. The time has come to make our voice heard in the corridors of power and ensure the interests of the haulage industry, which is critical to the success of the UK economy, are properly taken into account.

Together, we can make a real impact.

Now that the dust has settled on the General Election, all the various ministerial posts have been filled, and the government has settled its position on how and where budget cuts will fall, we have an opportunity to engage with the various MPs who influence policy.

Over the summer, we have been building a list of key MPs, including not only ministers in important departments, such as the DfT and the Treasury, but also the Whips who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of ministers and play a vital role in briefing them about many issues.

For many years, there has been the view that the road freight sector’s interests have not been properly communicated to Parliament. Deliver UK is a completely new approach which will change this situation dramatically and permanently. Deliver UK is a carefully planned, targeted approach to making our voice heard, using our members’ influence to ensure that government not only listens to our views, but reflects those views in the decisions it makes.

Every member has a part to play. Every member can help us achieve the objective of ensuring that MPs listen to our concerns.

Deliver UK will work on a number of levels. The first stage is the identification of those MPs who are most important to our campaign to get our interests taken into account when decisions are made.

During this stage we will be approaching members direct and asking them to get involved in writing to MPs, attending their surgeries, inviting them to visit members’ depots and, most importantly, getting our messages across about the issues which matter, and the changes we want to see.

The first stage will take us through to the end of this year, after which we will extend our reach to a wider range of MPs who are interested in specialist areas of significance to members and are willing to listen to our concerns and follow them up with ministers in a positive and constructive way.

In the meantime we encourage members to approach any MP, whatever their role within Parliament. One thing is absolutely clear: if we don’t tell decision-makers what is important to us, no one else will. If you are asked to get involved, we hope you will.

OCTOBER 2010

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