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In political terms, the next few months should be very interesting as we edge towards the General Election in May. The leading political parties are already manoeuvring into position for what is predicted to be a hard-fought and bitter battle. Whatever the colour (or colours) of the next government it will need to work with the logistics sector to realise measures that will benefit not just this sector but UK PLC as well.
When delivering his Autumn Statement, George Osborne announced the continuation of the freeze on fuel duty but for many commentators he could have used the moment to deliver a ‘real terms’ cut in the level of duty. Considering that oil prices continue to plummet and that fuel duty is around 70% of the price of a litre of fuel the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have missed a golden opportunity to also ‘reward’ transport companies and the motoring public.
So, as Election Day approaches, political leaders and parliamentary candidates could well come under pressure to reveal if their party will adopt a positive approach on this issue and support a real terms cut in fuel duty. The findings of FairFuelUK have proved beyond doubt that such a measure would boost employment levels and the economy as a whole, so not only does it make sense it really would be a vote winner.
Lorry drivers should now have completed their first block of DCPC periodic training – yes, the deadline was 10 September. For those who are still not compliant the message is simple – that they, and the operators they work for, are in danger of action being taken against them if they continue to drive.
Initially, many viewed periodic training as an unnecessary burden but over time drivers and operators have come to recognise the benefits of keeping skills up to date. Going forward, progressive logistics companies see it as an integral part of running a safe and efficient business.
As someone involved with CPC from its initial concept, Geoff Dunning has seen many changes during his years in the road transport sector. He recently retired as chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and his article in this edition reflects on his time in the industry. As a key commentator, Geoff has always championed the cause of the RHA, its members and the sector. He leaves the organisation in very good health.
I would like to personally thank Geoff for finding the time in his busy schedule to write for Freight Industry Times, and for providing such straight-talking articles.
Mike Parry, Editor
This summer will stay in the memory of two of Freight Industry Times’ regular contributors – Geoff Dunning of the Road Haulage Association and Lesley Batchelor of the Institute of Export – for some time to come.
After 27 years with the RHA, the past five as chief executive, Geoff is set to retire at the end of August (see page 1). He is leaving the association in excellent shape following one of the worst recessions this country has witnessed. During his time as chief executive, Geoff has always found a window in his extremely busy schedule to write for Freight Industry Times. I’m sure readers will look forward to Geoff’s final article for the RHA, which will appear in our Autumn edition.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Geoff for providing such thought provoking articles, which have always addressed the major issues head on and championed the cause of the road haulage sector, and wish him well in the future.
For her part, Lesley Batchelor is a tireless advocate of UK businesses looking to maximise their presence on the international stage. Now, she has been recognised for her efforts and has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list (see this page).
Indeed Lesley should be heartedly congratulated on receiving such a well-deserved accolade. Her articles in each edition of this publication reflect her overwhelming commitment to the IOE and those companies and individuals it supports and helps in their professional development.
Those of you visiting the NEC Birmingham on 29th and 30th of April and the 1st of May are in for a treat. This year the Commercial Vehicle Show and Multimodal take place in different halls at the venue on those dates, so it is a great two-for-one experience for the sector.
Both events are free to attend and you can register online. This edition of Freight Industry Times includes reports on both gatherings which are totally independent of each other. Coverage will continue online and in our newsletters while the next edition will review the success of each event.
If you are attending the Commercial Vehicle Show you will find more than 400 exhibitors and a vast range of products, many of which are being displayed for the first time. A number of the vehicle manufacturers are unveiling their latest models during an action packed three days.
Now in its seventh year, Multimodal is seen as the key event for shippers and freight buyers. With close on 300 exhibitors there is plenty to see and the organisers predict that visitor numbers could exceed 6,000. Besides being an ideal networking event, Multimodal 2014 offers a full programme of seminars and masterclasses.
This year you can find Freight Industry Times at Multimodal 2014 on Stand 454. We hope you find time to come and see us – and you are sure to get a warm welcome.
Mike Parry, Editor
As many had predicted, in his Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the cancellation of the fuel duty rise scheduled for September 2014 and a freeze on any increase until May 2015 – the month of the next general election. George Osborne promoted the measure as helping motorists and businesses while the economy continues its recovery.
But for numerous commentators the measure falls short of expectations. FairFuelUK continues to reiterate that the UK has the highest fuel tax regime in the EU, and in his blog the campaign’s lead spokesperson Quentin Willson emphasises that the announcement does not go far enough and that the evidence presented by FairFuelUK shows that ‘a cut in fuel duty would in fact generate jobs, increase GDP and reduce inflation’. Quentin also points out that the Treasury has not refuted this evidence!
For the majority of hauliers fuel remains the most expensive element in their operational budget, so the fight to reduce fuel duty in real terms is set to continue up to and well beyond the next election. I am sure politicians of all the major parties will find Quentin and his colleagues formidable opponents in the run up to polling day.
Mike Parry, Editor