The RHA’s Board of Directors recently confirmed a new five-year strategy for the Association. We will focus on three priorities for the industry: profitability, compliance and sustainability – and we make no apology for putting profit first.
We know that our members are in business to make a profit, and we will be working very hard during 2013 to support companies in that aim. As part of that work, our Board recently decided to cancel the membership of any business that reaches a formal agreement with its creditors and to look extremely closely at their trading patterns in the months or even years prior to the agreement before accepting any application to have the membership re-instated. The issue of ‘phoenix’ companies has long been a thorn in the side of the industry, and that is why the RHA will be discussing the performance of directors of insolvent companies with the Senior Traffic Commissioner as the year develops.
Compliance remains a key issue, and the UK should be rightly proud of the generally good safety record that British-operated trucks have demonstrated over the years. Our view is very simple: as long as there are those who deliberately or repeatedly flout the law, the attention of the enforcer (VOSA) and the regulator (the Traffic Commissioners) should be focussed on the non-compliant, leaving those operators who put a great deal of effort into getting it right to go about their business without being distracted. Needless to say, our industry and our operations are technically complex, so occasional contraventions may occur, but it should not be difficult for a reputable firm to demonstrate simply and quickly a culture of compliance that will be acceptable to both VOSA and the TCs.
Sustainability is high on the government’s agenda and therefore is important to the industry, but we have a good track record of managing carbon dioxide output – even though we talk in terms of fuel consumption. Our priority for 2013 is to show the legislators this is our way of tackling the issue, even if it doesn’t fit with their language.
I hope that everyone has the dates 10-12 April in their diaries for a trip to the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham. An excellent event is expected, with wide-ranging representation from all aspects of the industry and, at the time of writing, we have over 350 exhibitors who have taken space.
The Euro 5 versus Euro 6 argument will no doubt be high on many people’s agenda; and operators will be deep in conversation with manufacturers about lead times, fuel consumption and, of course, prices. We are also delighted to see trailer manufacturers well represented at this year’s show and there is bound to be interest in progress with the longer semi-trailer trial. Last year’s show saw a few of the first examples, so this year we will be able to compare notes and experience.