MP tells MSA operators to up their game
As National Lorry Week gets into full swing – a leading Tory MP has added his voice to criticism of the standard of roadside facilities for truckers.
Greg Smith – who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Road Freight – said the “people who drive our economy, quite literally” need to be better looked after.
He told a meeting at this week’s Conservative Party Conference, chaired by the RHA’s executive director Rod McKenzie, that he was encouraged that Moto “get it” and that operators in general need to “seriously up their game” along with changes to planning laws that it make it easier for truckparks to be built.
Several speakers agreed that the public need to be better educated about the poor standard of roadside facilities for HGV drivers…and why that’s a barrier to drivers staying in the profession.
The meeting covered many other points.
Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Mon, argued for Anglesey being made a Freeport to make trade and customs easier after sea freight traffic dropped by a third after Brexit.
Paul Durkin, a senior executive from Wincanton stressed the largest British owned logistics business has 3 key assets – people, trucks and sheds and its time to focus more on people through professional investment in training – and quoted Clare Bottle, chief of UCWA, as saying this is an industry you can enter with no qualifications and rise through the ranks to be the boss.
He added “we’ve raised the bar on earnings” and that potential staff are surprised how much a trucker can earn now.
Councillor Philip Atkins, former leader of Staffordshire CC, said the planning system in the UK was too centralised and theres not enough joined up thinking about road building: “it should be possible to get across the country easily and simply”, he added.
There was condemnation of congestion charging and Clean Air Zones. Greg Smith said they were a “cash machine…to raise revenue councils”
He added that decarbonisation was good “but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” by leaving operators with stranded assets – trucks they can’t use. He is excited by the possibility of synthetic petroleum as fuel for future trucks – a subject the RHA will be covering in greater detail shortly.
Councillor Atkins spelt out a grim warning at the end of the meeting of three key messages: we need to double food production by 2050; the Ukraine war has affected food supply; and suppliers are being squeezed by retailers on price.
With National Lorry Week in mind, he said we need to be better at selling the job of trucking: “people think it’s a terrible job, but it’s highly skilled”. We need to lower the average age of drivers – and fast.
Finally, Greg Smith supported the RHA’s call for a 15ppl cut in fuel duty for essential users. He s