By the time you read this we will probably know – or have a good indication – what the Chancellor is doing about fuel duty. And I can only say that a tremendous amount of work has been done to carry forward the great campaigning successes of 2011 into this year.
Whatever happens, we must not lose sight of the fact that the RHA’s involvement and support for FairFuelUK has been a resoundingly effective political lobby, with a number of proposed increases in duty being dropped or postponed and a real reduction being achieved.
But our campaigning is not restricted to fuel duty – important thought that undoubtedly is. In fact, the RHA has a very long list of issues that are being tackled and we are making progress on most fronts. Space does not allow me to mention everything, nor to give full details of the topics that are referred to. Members are kept up-to-date on progress in a variety of ways, including our on-going programmes of members’ meetings around the country, e-newsletters from both the regions and Weybridge and, of course, ROADWAY. I urge all members to read as much of this as possible, so you are kept in the know. In no particular order, here are some of the things we are dealing with, together with a short note of the current situation:
On lorry charging we are supporting the latest proposals: indeed, we would like to see them brought in sooner rather than later. We know this does not fully resolve the ‘level playing field’ but it is a step in the right direction.
In London, we are working with Transport for London (TfL) to ensure that members’ interests are taken fully into account in planning for the Olympics and we believe that everything possible is being done to tackle the obvious challenges we will face during the coming summer.
We are also working with TfL to address the real difficulties that arise from trucks sharing congested streets with cyclists. The tragic loss of life that can occur seriously affects everyone involved, and we hope that all interested parties will work together to find effective ways forward.
Also in London, we are considering if and how the FORS scheme might be developed, without simply adding to the administrative burden that all hauliers face.
Another problem being addressed is the wide-ranging area of driver skills, training and recruitment. This is a longer term issue in some respects, as the fact that many more drivers are leaving the industry than are passing LGV tests will not have an immediate impact on members, but when economic growth returns, there is every chance that recruitment will not be simply a matter of waiting for drivers to come knocking on your door.
Finally, there are two issues in the recovery industry that are being tackled: hard shoulder safety and statutory fees. Neither is going to be resolved overnight, but we will make sure that progress is made.