While the issue of annual testing of goods vehicles and trailers during the coronavirus pandemic has been largely dealt with by extending test expiry dates, there are still businesses at real risk of failure because of anomalies in DVSA’s systems.
By the end of April, Andover Trailers, the leading manufacturer of specialist trailers, particularly for the heavy transport and plant movement sectors, will have 14 trailers, worth around £650,000, completed and ready for delivery, with customers anxious to pay for them and put them to work. But without the IVA sign-off essential to enter service, they’re going nowhere. Andover Trailers MD Tim Wright said “Our cash flow is killed stone-dead. I’m just sitting here watching my company gradually go into debt and I can do nothing about it. It’s very, very frustrating.” Wright’s big fear is that the buyers will cancel and go overseas to buy stock trailers.
He added “We have a huge order book, both commercial and military, through to 2021. If we go down because we can’t survive this, it will be absolutely unforgivable. We’re doing absolutely everything we should be doing, but we just need a bit of help.”
Andover Trailers has been able to keep around half its workforce fully employed while still respecting safe distancing guidelines, but its products cannot currently be delivered to their buyers. The problem arises with the administrative process to put new trailers into service. We’re advised that while the system to register new trucks, which is largely automated, is still functioning well, trailers need to be individually inspected under the IVA scheme before being allowed on the road. However, IVAs were suspended indefinitely in March, apart from an emergency procedure for vehicles “critical to the COVID-19 response”.
Andover Trailers, all of whose products are uniquely built to customer order, normally has DVSA inspectors on site every other Thursday, typically signing off four to six trailers at a time. It made various proposals to DVSA to enable remote inspections, and we understand that the SMMT is working with manufacturers and dealers to find a way of carrying out IVAs at ATF locations under DVSA supervision, but so far no solution has been accepted.