Industry gives mixed view on government’s Plan for Drivers

Image by Quaid Lagan on Unsplash

Industry has given a mixed verdict on the government’s new 30-point Plan for Drivers. 

Transport secretary Mark Harper announced the raft of new measures yesterday (October 2) to support people’s freedom to use their cars and curb over-zealous enforcement measures.

The plan will see drivers benefit from smoother, easier journeys and includes £70m to keep traffic flowing.

Measures were also announced that could help councils increase spending on fixing potholes and road repairs by more than £100m over 10 years, fining roadworks which overrun, new technology to simplify parking payment and updating 20mph zone guidance for England to prevent inappropriate blanket use

The government has also committed to exploring measures to speed up the installation of charge points for electric vehicles and extending grants to schools to install charge points.

Intelligent Transport Systems UK (ITS UK), the national industry association for transport technology, broadly welcomed the announcement. 

Max Sugarman, chief executive of ITS UK, said: “There is much to welcome in the government’s new plan for drivers, including the high priority it places on transport technology and its role in supporting a more efficient and safer road system. 

“In particular, it's positive to see government commit to deliver the National Parking Platform over the coming year, the £70m of funding for smarter traffic management systems and the commitment to roll out new data services like the digitalisation of Traffic Regulation Orders.”

However, he said while the plan includes measures on enforcement technology, it does not include any mention of the issues surrounding the approval of these products.

He said this “is limiting the industry’s ability to get new enforcement technology onto the network and reducing investment in the sector”. 

He added: “The current Home Office Type Approval process is opaque, with decisions taking excessively long and little dialogue between assessors and manufacturers. We urge the Government to back our Let’s Get HOTA Working campaign and review the process to ensure it remains robust but provides more certainty for the industry.”

Meanwhile Logistics UK’s chief executive David Wells said the announcement had “missed the chance” to drive down inflation by cutting red tape that hinders logistics businesses.

“In response to the environmental agenda, a local patchwork of different schemes has emerged which is driving up bureaucracy and administration for our members and increasing costs for consumers,” he said. 

“The wide range of rules and requirements between regions and the ever-changing regulations are simply adding costs and complexity to the task of moving goods from A to B. 

“With national standards for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Clean Air Zones, low and zero emission zones, we could achieve the same outcomes for cleaner air and reduced congestion, while minimising costs for logistics operators and inflation for customers. 

“We are keen to see a nationwide, interoperable portal for collecting payments, and consistency in the standards against which payment levels are set, such as stipulating Euro 6/VI for diesel, Euro 4 for petrol and Euro 3 for motorcycles.

“Our industry wants to see traffic flow improved and pot holes fixed, and looks forward scrutinising the details on today’s announcement, but our industry also needs a fair, standardised approach nationwide for charging logistics operators. 

“This would enable the sector to budget more effectively and invest in the green transition while keeping costs down on the shelves.”

Mr Wells said he was disappointed at the lack of vision shown in the plan at a time when logistics has the opportunity to drive productivity and help to reduce inflation which is affecting the economy. 

“Logistics is the lifeblood of the economy,” he added, “driving every part of every business. 

“Our members are keen to play their part in progressing the country’s passage to net zero but need clarity from government to create confidence and build the conditions from which to invest effectively.”

Click here to read the government’s Plan for Drivers

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