The Industry’s Voice in Parliament

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Freight Transport. This is not a title that slips easily off the tongue, but it is the name of a body in the Houses of Parliament that provides a voice for the industry and it is a body that will become more and more active through to the end of the year and beyond.

The RHA recently agreed to fund a member of staff – Sam Hargreaves – in the office of Rob Flello MP, who chairs the group, and Sam is currently working on a programme of activity that will explore key issues for the industry. He is also mapping our members against the list of MPs who support the group, with a view to generating much more engagement between the industry and Parliament. Subjects that are being considered include such matters as parking and rest facilities, security in the industry, road maintenance and improvement and the likely skill shortages that we will face as the economy comes out of recession.

Issues that have been discussed at recent meeting include the use of alternative fuels, the longer semi-trailer trial and VOSA’s ‘Testing Transformation’ programme. The summer will see more background work being done with a view to establishing good contacts between RHA members and MPs who are members of the group and I hope that our members will respond positively to any approaches that they might receive.

The Fair Fuel UK campaign has demonstrated clearly the effectiveness of high quality engagement with MPs and I am sure that the industry will benefit from getting involved with the group’s activity. Another activity that will raise the profile of the industry with Government is the Commercial Vehicle Forum, the first of which took place last year. This event is organised by RHA in conjunction with the SMMT and IRTE, as Commercial Vehicle Show partners, and this year it will provisionally be held on 22nd October at the British Museum and is likely to take a format similar to ‘Question Time’, with a high profile panel that will address the big issues of the day – make a note in your diary. The theme for the event will be efficiency, with themes covered including such matters as economic efficiency, which covers the desire to make the maximum number of deliveries, in the fewest miles whilst consuming least fuel. Clearly environmental efficiency will be another area to be covered, with Government keen to ensure that the industry is making real progress with minimising its carbon footprint. Further details of the event, such as the keynote speaker and the list of panellists will be announced in due course, but in the meantime, save the date, as I am sure that this is going to be a ‘don’t miss’ event for many operators. There is no doubt that we are now on the threshold of a new era of relations between the haulage industry and Parliament: I hope that RHA members will respond positively and get involved.