Road Haulage Association

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Tag Archives: rha awards lunch

Awards Lunch is great success

The RHA’s first Awards Lunch was widely regarded as a great success. We had more than 250 people in the Grand Connaught Rooms to hear a wide-ranging speech from our chairman, listen to the new Logistics Minister Mike Penning, and find out who had won each of our five new awards. RHA chairman Andy Boyle pulled no punches in reminding our principal guest of the industry’s concerns, focusing on the very poor state of much of our road network. He described our roads as “crumbling before our eyes” and very few of those present would have questioned that.

I would like to say how pleased I was that the day ran so smoothly and was so well received by those who attended. Congratulations to Chris Seaton, Kate Gibbs and Peter Shakespeare for their achievement in bringing the awards lunch together and making it so enjoyable for everyone who attended. I know times are very hard in the industry at the moment, but it is good to let our hair down sometimes, and the fact that so many people came along made it more than worthwhile.

You will find the list of award winners on page 12 and, while it might seem unfair to single out one for special mention, I do want to congratulate Val Smith on winning the Unsung Hero Award. Val chaired the RHA from 2003 to 2005 and anyone who knows her will agree that she is one of the most unassuming, charming and bravest “movers and shakers” in the industry.

In the opinion of the judges, much of what she has done for the industry has not received the recognition it deserves. When campaigning publicly for a better deal for her local members in Northern Ireland, she did so at considerable personal risk. She has given selflessly of her time to the RHA for many years, all while running and growing her haulage business, Bondelivery. And everything she has done for the haulage industry, especially in Northern Ireland, was achieved while bringing up a young family.

For many of those who attended, the highlight of the day was hearing from Mike Penning who, as Minister for Logistics, is without doubt one of the most important people for our industry. It is he who will make the significant decisions on new and changed legislation, so it was particularly interesting to hear what he had to say. The Minister’s speech covered a wide range of subjects, and we were very pleased that he chose our event to make the formal announcement that the Driver CPC regulations would not be ‘gold-plated’. That is a welcome sign that the government is listening, as was the clear commitment to tackle the issue of unfair competition from foreign hauliers. We await further details of their plans with great interest.



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.


Lorry charging: a Trojan horse?

Our government seems to be committed to finding a way of making a Lorry Road User Charge scheme work, with its programme including a new system of charging which will ‘ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.’

The RHA’s established policy on fuel duty is in three parts: we are looking for stability on prices; we expect to see meaningful charges being applied to foreign operators, and we require a rebate scheme that will result in no increase in costs for UK hauliers. It is on this basis that any discussion with the DfT will be taken forward.

We are aware that others will have different views, not least the LibDems who pre-election were talking of a charging scheme, the proceeds of which would be used not to compensate UK hauliers but to fund a major expansion of the rail network.

It is also likely that environmental groups will see an HGV charging scheme as a means of promoting their totally unjustified claim that UK-registered trucks do not pay their way. Needless to say, that is a point which we will be vigorously rejecting, as there is more than enough evidence to show that the real problem is foreign vehicles which contribute nothing, despite taking a very large proportion of UK long-distance haulage work.

It is encouraging to see that the government wishes to ‘ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.’ The challenge is to ensure that real progress is made, that the work is not distracted by meaningless diversions designed to slow down or even halt development, and that the agenda is not confused by parties with other objectives which are irrelevant or misleading. Equally important is the need to avoid being tempted into a deal that does not meet the three tests set out above: stability of prices, charging that applies to foreign operators and a significant rebate for UK firms.

The RHA will be embarking on a series of meetings with the DfT and the Treasury designed to pursue our aims. This work will be supported by a growing number of RHA members who have agreed to assist us by getting involved in Deliver UK – a targeted programme of contact with MPs.

For too long, our industry has failed to get its message into Parliament, with the vast majority of MPs knowing little or nothing about road haulage. That has to change, and the RHA is helping any member who is prepared to get involved. Whether you have one truck or a fleet, your voice is important to ensure that the haulage industry’s views are heard in Westminster. No other single influence has as much impact on the legislator as informed communication from industry experts such as RHA members. Your association will be taking the lead and, together, we can make our voice heard.


Driver CPC: threat or opportunity?

As an industry we have always had an element of cynicism in response to change or efforts to regulate our activities.

Far too many employers have an in-built reluctance to train staff and many drivers choose not to improve their knowledge and are scared of any attempt to do so.

Some employers assume that drivers arrive with them ‘fully trained’ because they hold an LGV licence, and some drivers see training as something that is a chore – like a trip to the dentist. So it is not surprising that the chatter among drivers and on driver forums is totally negative.

RHA Training works with large numbers of drivers, and the worst groups to motivate and stimulate are those where the employer has arranged the training on a Saturday and then expects the drivers to attend in their own time having completed a week’s work.

The RHA has every sympathy with hard-pressed members who face the choice of paying the fuel bill and wages or buying DCPC training but, unless they approach it in a more positive light, they will continue to waste their money and the drivers will continue to mirror their behaviours.

It is essential that employers consider what they want to achieve from their investment. Just ask: ‘How can I improve my business? Is it reduced fuel consumption, fewer accidents, improved compliance, better customer service, etc?’ Only then should they consider how to achieve that, and see how that can be done within the syllabus. This way any training will offer a return on their investment.

We are also very concerned about rumours of cheating by some trainers. JAUPT’s auditing process will not catch anyone cheating: it will only identify honest trainers who have missed out some element of a bureaucratic process. There is no ‘policing’ as such and this has to change.

Many operators, large and small, have realised that the most cost-effective way to approach DCPC has to be one-day-a-year, which controls costs in each year, manages downtime and ensures benefits are gained as early as possible.

This also allows drivers to get used to their annual training day and, in an ideal world and if handled well, they might even begin to look forward to it.

The first experience that drivers get of the CPC will be critical to their view of the process going forward, so selecting the right course from the right provider in the first instance is crucial.

The SAFED programme proved without doubt that even the hard-bitten cynical driver can learn new ways of working that saves money: the average fuel saving across over 6,000 drivers was better than 10%. The DCPC is a reality, and operators should use it to their benefit.