Enforcement not legislation is the answer, says FTA

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says effective enforcement of vans must come before new laws following the announcement of three new European Commission consultations.

The EC has released the first of the three consultations about changes to operator licensing which poses a range of questions about the way two key pieces of transport legislation work and how they could be changed.

But James Firth, head of licensing policy and compliance information for FTA, said enough legislation already existed to ensure van operators were safe and compliant.

He said: “Rules for vans already exist regarding roadworthiness, overloading, driver licensing and insurance, but no-one is out there enforcing them.

"Introducing new laws when there’s no enforcement simply means those who play by the rules are stuck with more costs while the cowboys carry on doing what they think they can get away with.”

FTA has been striving to help van operators shake off the ‘white van man’ image with its Van Excellence accreditation programme, which shares best practice, drives up standards of compliance, recognises excellence and represents the interests of the van industry.

The scheme has more than 100 members including household names such as BT, Asda and Kwik-Fit.

Firth said: “The operators who are Van Excellence members maintain their vans properly, run safe fleets and train their staff effectively – this shows that more rules are not the answer.”

Issues under the spotlight in the consultation include:

  • Are the current rules fit for tackling ‘letterbox companies’ - businesses that set up in a low-cost country but conduct transport operations in a higher cost economy, using drivers paid at the lower level?
  • Should the threshold for legislation such as operator licensing and cabotage, which currently apply to vehicles used for hire or reward over 3.5 tonnes, be lowered and what implications would this have?
  • Should the cabotage rule of ‘three operations in seven days’, following an international load, be amended to allow better enforcement?
  • The Department for Transport itself consulted in the New Year on proposals to generate more funds for enforcing against unsafe vans, but when the final strategy came out a few weeks ago there was no mention of it.

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