Can you buy a truck with an AK47 machine gun?
Laurie Dealer isn't sure about the 'drive-by shooting' headline or the points made by the presenters. Pick the classic one liner:
"Where guns are handed out like confetti" - Laurie dealer has seen Wedding Crashers, and doesn't recall that part.
Opinion: "The government has forced me to close down"
My four-year-old son Josh came running into the lounge in floods of tears recently because his toy had broken into several pieces. Naturally, he asked me to fix it and make it all better, but this was impossible. It suddenly dawned on me that my own haulage firm was in a similar position: Daddy can't fix it.
My own father was in the haulage business and it runs in my blood, so we set up Dave James Transport a number of years ago. It's part of the Dave James Group, which offers sales and tyre services, but the haulage arm is no longer financially viable.
I am turning my back on haulage because, as a businessman, I have no qualms over halting something that has lost, and is losing, me money. You can ask any of my drivers, we always maintained vehicles regardless of cost. We took pride in running smart trucks that gave out the right image to an ever-hostile Joe Public, but "doing the job right" is not enough. The rates you are being paid have to keep up with ever-rising costs, set against a backdrop of falling rates and dearer fuel: there lies the reason I am pulling the plug on my transport subsidiary.
Haulage firms are still undercutting one another; there are even fewer truckstops; and the government rides roughshod over the RHA and FTA like they were some annoying little puppies barking at a continually closed door, creating a noise that they know eventually descends to a whimper.
The government knows that our industry is disjointed, fragmented and devoid of leadership. Without real leadership we are a ghost ship as an industry, forever cursed to follow the same course of increasing costs, little or no driver facilities and falling rates. Nothing will ever make that change. In 10 years' time this viewpoint will still make absolute sense, for as an industry we fail ourselves miserably by not sticking together. For every one company that says it won't run on cut rates, there are 10 behind it that will. Of course, there are excellent exceptions to the rule, and not every firm dances to the customers' tune, but they are the lucky ones so to speak, and unfortunately they are getting more and more scarce.
Imagine, for a moment, you have a factory worker who clocks in at 4am and works a 4.5-hour shift, has a quick break, then works another 4.5-hour shift. Once he is done, you tell him to park his car in the urine-laden lay-by outside, not go home, not have access to washing facilities or a toilet, or hot food, and be back into work at 4am the next morning. You would say the factory boss was a madman and that he would be in breach of every single employment law in the UK, not to mention contravening human rights.
Yet every day of the year this is what we ask lorry drivers to do, and we wonder why there is a shortage of younger drivers.
We simply must change. We need to learn to stick together as an industry, for if we don't we will be betraying our future. We will be betraying the very good hard-working drivers I am laying off at the end of this month, and many more just like them. Even worse, we are betraying the very industry we hold so dear to our hearts.
David James, owner, Dave James Group