Friday, May 22, 2020

Freight and Logistics Groups Criticise Councils for Timing of Road Haulage Schemes

Local Authorities Reintroduction of Restrictions 'Beyond Belief'
Shipping News Feature

UK – There was unanimity with regard to the immediate reintroduction of the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) from the logistics community with both the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) strongly critical of the timing. Portsmouth City Council also came in for a broadside for its naivety.

With the government keen to see more cyclists on the streets in urban areas, particularly the capital, the London Councils are bringing back the LLCS in three stages. With immediate effect the enforcement contractor NSL will once again deploy enforcement officers on streets in London to make HGV observations. This is to understand current freight activity and compare with pre-pandemic levels. No enforcement would be undertaken at this time.

From Monday 1st June 2020 activities will be logged onto the LLCS case management system and officers will process and assess these observations. Any possible breaches of the scheme will result in the issuance of a Warning Notice only. This phase will last for two weeks. On 15th June the LLCS will revert to regular usual enforcement of the scheme which will be kept under review. Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive was unimpressed, saying:

“I find their decision to reintroduce enforcement controls at this extremely sensitive time to be beyond belief. They were one of the first enforcement authorities in London to react to the Covid-19 emergency, suspending enforcement of the LLCS on 17 March 2020. Their action was welcomed by the freight and logistics industries, struggling to keep London’s essential shops and services supplied at time of severe food shortages and significant issues with deliveries.

“Lockdown is beginning to ease but there is still a very long way to go. To extend the suspension for another month would really help the industry that is trying to get back on the road as quickly as it can. But to reintroduce the Control Scheme with less than a week’s notice, amounts to little more than kicking an industry when it’s down.”

After the initial intent to end the suspension of the scheme at the end of April, discussions with freight industry representatives saw the extension until the end of May, now it seems normal service is to be resumed and this was not welcomed by the FTA whose Head of Urban Policy, Natalie Chapman, commented:

“[The] announcement of the reintroduction of the LLCS enforcement is hugely disappointing, and a retrograde step which will hit the logistics sector particularly hard at a time when it is itself attempting to rebuild after the shutdown of Covid-19.

”The pressures involved in maintaining supplies to London’s essential shops and services have not gone away and we are still a long way from ‘business as usual’, so to place an additional regulation on the logistics industry at a time when it is fighting to keep the capital trading and moving after weeks with a limited cash flow will add further burden on the sector.

“With a downturn in the usage of public transport due to social distancing, and more foot, car and cycle traffic on the roads as a result, the continued suspension of the LLCS would have enabled logistics operators to deliver outside peak working hours and help spread demand on London’s limited road infrastructure. To reintroduce the scheme at this point seems nonsensical.”

Meanwhile in Portsmouth the City Council’s decision yesterday to immediately close some roads in the City centre to all vehicles with the exception of buses and bicycles between the hours of 8am and 8pm without any prior discussions or warning, again met with a scathing attack from the RHA’s Richard Burnett, who said:

“The lack of notice for these closures is completely unacceptable, unreasonable and in our, view a complete abuse of process. Hauliers will have already planned their delivery schedules for tomorrow (Friday) and those receiving also have to make plans. It’s highly likely there will already be hauliers, with vehicles planned to deliver in this area, after 8am, resulting in complete chaos, with HGV’s attempting to make deliveries, while unaware of the closures.

“Of course we appreciate that there has been an increase in the number of cyclists and that they must be kept safe at all times. But should Portsmouth businesses and the hauliers they rely on be penalised because of many road users wanting to exercise as opposed to making essential journeys?”