Friday, December 27, 2013

Freight Group Calls for Road Toll Cuts and Criticize Parking Charges for Road Haulage Outfits

FTA Speaks Out Quoting Figures for Costs and Savings
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst many are still enjoying a prolonged Christmas holiday, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is still producing news and, after some heavy lobbying on fuel duty, has turned its attention to road tolls and what it terms excessive parking charges which affect the road haulage community throughout Britain.

The Federation of Small Businesses in Wales and the FTA have today called for an immediate cut in Severn Crossings tolls once the bridges pass into public hands. In a joint statement issued today, following the recent announcement of a further increase in tolls on the crossings, the organisations have called for the tolls to be reduced to the level where they only cover maintenance once the current contract with Severn River Crossing plc comes to an end.

Both the Federation and the FTA are concerned that the current tolls levied on hauliers, small businesses and other motorists are damaging the economy of South Wales. A recent report by Arup for the Welsh Government suggested that if the bridge tolls were abolished it could boost economic output in Wales by £107 million. Ian Gallagher, Freight Transport Association Head of Policy for Wales and the South West commented:

“For too long businesses have had to pay high tolls to use the Severn Crossings; which are a vital artery between Wales and England. FTA believes that the tolls must be reduced as soon as the bridges pass into public ownership. As we look to the future, it is clear that the method by which the Seven Crossings were funded is not a suitable blueprint for new infrastructure projects, and we would call for government to steer well clear of any similar schemes.”

The Federation of Small Businesses has joined with the FTA to add weight to the call for a reduction with its Welsh Head of External Affairs, Iestyn Davies, saying:

“The current system of tolls places an unfair burden on road users to fund bridges that form a vital part of the UK’s transport infrastructure. However, we take some comfort from assurances that we have received from Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones who has told us that if the Welsh Government is given control of the crossings that, after raising sufficient money for maintenance, he would ‘Look to reduce the toll levels paid by users of the Crossings and alleviate the burden on the economy’.”

Earlier this week the FTA spoke out on the publication by the RAC Foundation which reported figures recording record profits made by English local authorities for parking fines, now known as Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s). With a percentage of these costs being imposed on hauliers, particularly urban delivery companies, the FTA believes the reported surplus in 2012-13 of £594 million (and a projected £632 million in 2013-14) from parking charges which the report highlights, is totally unjustified, particularly in light of the fact that the FTA’s own PCN Survey 2012 revealed a 50% leap in the number of PCN’s being issued in London, which it believes had a direct result in increasing costs to consumers. FTA Head of Urban Logistics Christopher Snelling, commented:

“This isn’t just about parking, it also comes from loading and unloading. Many of our members are incorrectly fined as authorities are too eager to judge that they are parked when in fact they are in the legitimate process of delivering to local businesses. Many fines are also issued incorrectly when we had every right to be delivering in that location. These fines amount to a stealth tax on local businesses in these areas.

“Authorities should not use the money made to support their general revenue as this gives them a perverse incentive not to help companies be able to deliver successfully. Instead the money should be channelled into improving loading space and parking availability and to improving the quality of enforcement, so that haulage companies are helped to make deliveries safe and efficient, to benefit the local economy.”

In other Association news the Northern Ireland Traffic Regulator Donald Armstrong of the DVA will be the keynote speaker at the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Transport Manager Conference in Belfast on 27 March 2014. During his presentation, Mr Armstrong will delivering essential information regarding the role of the Transport Regulation Unit; its progress since going live July 2012; findings and common problems with non-compliant operators and will discuss case study examples. Neil McDonnell, FTA Ireland General Manager said:

“The FTA is delighted to welcome Donald Armstrong of the DVA as keynote speaker at our Transport Manager event in 2014. We have listened carefully to our members’ feedback on what they would like to hear about at the conference, and have therefore, created a series of conference sessions tailored to address the areas of interest to our membership.”

The FTA Northern Ireland Transport Manager event programme will also include a wide variety of speakers covering key issues facing transport managers in the year ahead. Additionally the conference will provide invaluable information and advice to transport managers for their everyday operations. Delegates will be able to hear first-hand from industry experts, which will enable them to measure their operation against others. FTA policy experts also attend the conference and are on hand to give essential updates, and provide transport managers of operations of all sizes essential guidance and best practice advice surrounding future legislation and enforcement changes.

The price for FTA members booking after that date is £265 plus VAT for the first delegate and £225 plus VAT for subsequent delegates; the cost for non-members is £330 plus VAT for the first delegate and £290 plus VAT for subsequent delegates. To book a place, call the FTA Member Service Centre on 08717 11 22 22; complete the online booking form HERE or email events@fta.co.uk