MPs criticise Vosa for targeting too many small haulage firms

Vosa has been accused of focusing too much enforcement attention on smaller operators, to the detriment of ensuring larger fleets are compliant.

The assessment is delivered in the Transport Select Committee’s Work of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency report, which is published today (19 July).

In the report the MPs warn an apparent overreliance on the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) for enforcement purposes means Vosa is at risk of targeting specific types of operators.

The report uses the example of holders of ‘restricted’ LGV licences as being more likely to be stopped: “Although Vosa’s data indicates these operators are more likely to be non-compliant operators which are more frequently on the road might be overlooked," the report said.

It also repeats the senior traffic commissioner’s statement given during evidence, which Vosa has already responded to, that: “It is easy for Vosa to target the soft underbelly of the nice but incompetent small operators. It is much more difficult to target and enforce the tough hard core of the highly-uncompliant operators who show a total disregard for road safety.”

In summary, the Transport Select Committee states: “We recognise the value of OCRS for targeting dangerous vehicles while minimising the burden on the compliant.

“However we are concerned that undue reliance on the OCRS could have a distorting effect whereby larger operators are not being monitored effectively. This could encourage complacency or poor practice. Vosa should enhance OCRS to remove this distortion.”

While giving acknowledgment to Vosa’s success in recent years in targeting foreign-registered trucks on UK roads, the committee believes the extra resources next April’s HGV Road User Levy will demand of Vosa could be a step to far for the organisation.  The report suggests that some of the money raised from the levy be pumped back into Vosa enforcement resources so that it can provide additional staff.

In response to the report a Vosa spokesman said: “We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report which acknowledges the great work that Vosa does in helping to maintain Britain’s strong record on road safety.  We will consider the report and respond fully in due course.”

Vosa recently revealed plans to address several concerns operators held about OCRS.

NFDA welcomes state investment

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, welcomes the news that £1billion is to be invested in the UK automotive industry.

The UK Automotive Sector Strategy, published today, has been developed collaboratively by industry and government. The £1billion commitment will concentrate on the four key areas of technology, supply chain, skills and business environment.

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, commented “The whole automotive sector, including the motor retail division, is vital to the performance of the UK economy.   

“Whilst we see the Government commitment to the sector a very positive move it is vital that the retail sector is included in the investment plans. The retail sector is a fundamental division within the supply chain and heavily invests in infrastructure and equipment to deliver high quality service to consumers when buying  and maintaining cars.   

“The NFDA has long been dedicated to securing the best skills for the industry. Therefore we support the Automotive Council’s apprentice and graduate recruitment drive.”