Lords debate lowering England and Wales drink-drive limits

The concept of bringing drink-driving laws in England and Wales in line with the rest of the UK, and indeed most of the EU, came one step closer last week when the subject was debated in the House of Lords.

While campaigners for a lower drink-drive limit would see this as a welcome development, it by no means suggests that the government will be bringing the UK-wide blood-alcohol limit down to match the limit in Scotland any time soon. The proposed amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988 had only its second reading in the House of Lords on 29 January, and has many more hoops to jump through before it is graduated into law.

It appears there is strong public support for a lower drink-drive limit. According to a survey conducted by charity Brake and the Alcohol Health Alliance, 77% of 5,000 respondents supported coordinating the limit in England and Wales with the lower limit in Scotland- 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

“We cannot have differing levels between the UK countries, with trains and cars crossing borders every day as we have at the moment. I forecast that they can expect to see at least 600 people killed and around 25,000 casualties over the next three years as a result of maintaining the present level,” Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe said during the debate.

Commenting after the debate, transport lawyer Anton Balkitis of Rothera Dowson said he was supportive of harmonising drink-driving laws across the UK, but claimed it was too early to determine whether the lower limit in Scotland has improved road safety.

“It is difficult to make an assessment on the impact that the changes have had in Scotland, at present there is virtually no reduction in the number of prosecutions and we must look at whether there is any reduction in the number of drink drive related collisions and incidents,” he said.

But there had to be a sufficient education campaign ahead of any changes, he added. “In the past such campaigns have made a real impact on changing people’s perception of this type of offending which in turn changes drivers’ attitudes,” he said.

Circle Express snapped up by acquisition-hungry Rico

Operations at Circle Express will remain primarily standalone after same-day delivery specialist Rico bought the business last week (18 January).

However, Rico’s head of strategic development Keith Whitehead told Commercialmotor.com it planned to train some of its couriers to Circle’s aviation standards to boost Circle Express’s same-day operation.

“Rico will be marketing the Circle Express capability for hazardous material transport across its user base and establish a new service in its portfolio,” he said.

Circle Express has been trading through a CVA since May 2012. It had an annual turnover of £29m in 2014, and runs more than 300 vehicles across eight airport-based depots.

The company returned to profit in 2013 and reported a 44% increase in pre-tax profit to £194,000 in 2014 (2013: £134,000).

Circle Express MD Tom Ryan said the deal will give the company the financial backing it needs to “move forward and strengthen its position in the industry”.

Rico described the acquisition as strategic, and Whitehead said the company is looking to expand its horizons further. He said: “Rico and its parent organisation TVS are looking at opportunities for acquisition in the UK and globally.

“These will be similar organisations to expand current services and new organisations to bring Rico into new markets.”

Rico, which owns 75% of Circle Express shares, last made an acquisition in 2013 when it bought courier service DHL Express Same Day.

Last year Rico Group’s MD Paul Parrish said the company was expecting to double turnover within five years through an ambitious European expansion strategy.