HGV operators coped well with paper tax disc abolition

Haulage operators have emerged largely unscathed after the abolition of the paper tax disc, with very few HGVs clamped and towed away for failing to comply, according to official figures.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that there was a 6% reduction in clampings and impoundings between October 2013 and September 2014 – just 109, compared with 116 during the previous 12 months.

This contrasts with goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes – typically vans – which saw a substantial increase in non-compliance of almost 46%, to 7,040 in the months following the removal of the paper tax disc.

A recent survey also estimated that up to one million motorists are driving their vehicles untaxed, mostly because they didn’t know about the changes made in October 2014.

The RHA said it was aware of one or two members operating HGVs that had been caught out, but added it was surprised by the increase in the number of vans being clamped.

FTA lead on DVLA Ian Gallagher said hauliers focused their attention on introducing systems to address the overhaul. “People went away and said, ‘how are we going to work this?’ And systems were put in place.

“Where it’s failed is with those vehicles below 3.5 tonnes, primarily smaller operators who aren’t obligated by an O-licence and are perhaps running one to four vans. Maybe they don’t have the systems in place to capture that information.”

A DVLA spokesman said it “always recognised the potential for the number of untaxed vehicles to temporarily increase in the first year as we moved away from a paper tax disc, which had been in place for more than 90 years.

Almost 99% of all vehicles on the road are correctly taxed,” he added.

60-second interview: Anthony Bevan, MD, Bevan Group

Favourite holiday destination and why?

Barbados - I love the Caribbean because it’s so chilled out. 

What car do you drive?

A Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate - it’s reliable and does the job. I reserve the passion for my motorbikes, and currently ride a Triumph Thunderbird LT.   

Hobbies?

Over the last seven or eight years have done a lot of running and cycling. I’m back in the London Marathon this year, and raising money for children with cancer - I’ve not done so yet but will be setting up a page on bevangroup.com through which donations can be made. 

How did you get into the industry and why?

My father Ron started Bevan Motor Bodies in 1976. I joined the business at 16 and spent the next 12 years in various roles on the shop floor before moving into sales. I’ve been MD since 1988. I’ve loved this industry since the day I started, and that remains the case today. 

How would you encourage more young people into the industry?

For me, it’s all about having a positive attitude and wanting to work. Plus, and this is very important, they have to be a team player. They must also have the right mind set. For those who do, there are all sorts of opportunities to build a rewarding and fulfilling career. 

What will be the outlook for your sector of the market in 2016?

Bevan Group orders started building in the middle of last year and there’s been no let up since. Every factory is booked up until the end of June and for Supertrucks, our St Helens-based operation which specialises in glass-carrying vehicles, we already have an order bank that will take us through to August. So business is booming, and long may it continue.