Testing Times: hauliers travelling further to test vehicles

Not everyone is thrilled by closures of goods vehicle testing stations in favour of ATFs, with some operators complaining they are now having to travel much further.

Following part one's look at the consequences of ATF closures in rural areas, another haulier explains the affect DVSA’s testing transformation programme (TTP) is having on him.

Keith Byrne, director at Elite Vehicle Logistics in Eastbourne, says he is increasingly having to rely on an ATF 70 miles away in Guildford, rather than a testing station 50 miles nearer in Hastings.

“We have got a truck with a GV9 and [in mid-May] we were told it would be 22 July before it was seen,” he says. “It was the only available date.”

 “The dealer fixed it in 15 minutes and now I can’t use it until the prohibition is lifted. So, a truck is parked up, which we can’t use because of the GV9.”

Prior to TTP, Byrne says he could get a vehicle tested within a maximum of four weeks, and you could often rely on a cancellation and be seen sooner. “But there’s no such thing as getting a cancellation anymore,” he adds.

“You have got the extra diesel bill and it’s two hours down the road and a driver and a truck lost for the day. And if it doesn’t pass you have got to go again, which is another two hours there and back.”

Haulier John English says an ATF in Daventry recently gave him two months’ notice for an annual test, but he was able to rely on a Norbert Dentressangle station in Northampton instead, which could carry out a test much quicker.

“One of the problems is that not all stations are listed on the DVSA website, so it’s a question of ‘who you know’,” he says. “I’m not happy to travel more than a few miles, but I’m based at Crick so maybe I have more choice.”

Trade unions targeted by new government agenda

Stronger rules to stifle the influence of trade unions were announced during the Queen’s Speech today (27 May) at the official opening of Parliament.

The new Trade Unions Bill aims to ensure any strike action is the result of “clear, positive and recent decisions” by union members.

It will introduce a 50% voting threshold for union ballot turnouts and retain the requirement for there to be a simple majority of votes in favour. A time limit will also be imposed on a mandate following a ballot for industrial action.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, urged the government to “think again” and not hinder democracy.

“Unite has said repeatedly that the way to increase turnouts in strike ballots is not to make it harder for people to exercise fundamental rights, but to modernise voting.  This can be easily achieved through consensus and discussion, and without the division and fear that the government’s approach prefers,” he said. 

Another key issue the government has promised to address is the devolution of powers to major regions via the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which will see the election of “metro mayors”.

The new city mayors will be responsible for an area’s economic development, including transport, as well as undertake functions of police and crime commissioner for the region.

Manchester will be the first city with devolved powers, with a mayor in place by 2017.

However, the FTA previously voiced concerns that multiple freight delivery regulations for all cities could cause issues for operators.

Hauliers are also set to benefit from measures brought in via the Enterprise Bill, which aims to cut red tape, improve the business rates system, and create a Small Business Conciliation Service to help smaller firms resolve disputes, especially over late payments, without going to court.