Have you ever wondered where the Recovery Licensing scheme came from? Read on and I will tell you.......
Way back at the 2010 Recovery Tow Show in Telford there was an INDUSTRY meeting due to start on the official first day at 11:00 am, we arrived at 10:30 am.
The place was quiet so we jokingly asked has there been a bomb scare? to which the reply was everyone is in the meeting in there...it started early so we wandered in, to date I still remember thinking I had walked into some kind of American evangelical church event with the crowd whipped up into an excited frenzy. What grabbed my attention was the words get rid of the beavertail boys then there was some kind of vote for a licence to make this happen.
Having missed a fair chunk of the debate I started asking people at the show what was the meeting about, one guy who we joined at the table in the meeting replied I really don t know (I had seen this guy vote with his hand in the air!!! Remember my comment about a frenzied excitement ?) and so I set on what was just a fact finding mission.
Over the next two years we as an industry heard nothing, very few operators we spoke with had even heard of this R Licence being discussed by the European Rescue and Recovery Initiative and another question was who are these people ? Lots of comments were along the lines of more European rules eh? so we decided to investigate, but they were not registered as an official body and there were certainly no details at Companies House. With a distinct lack of information available I contacted a good friend and neighbour of mine Paul Nuttall who knows a fair bit about Europe as he is a UKIP MEP, who better? He asked his Transport man in Europe about all of this European Initiative, one week later Paul contacted me with some news!!!, but it wasn t the reams of documents I was expecting.... sorry mate but Europe has nothing to do with this but we want to know more so with the Tow Show on the horizon UKIP asked Lawrence Webb, their guy for Transport to contact ERRI for an invite to the meeting. This was refused on the grounds that they didn t want to politicise it !!! We sneaked him in anyway! (It later transpires that ERRI could be prosecuted by the E.U. for not requesting both relevant permissions to use the wording associating themselves to the E.U. and the gold stars on blue flag logo....not to mention the fact the E.U. s rules refuse applications of any restrictive behaviour! Is this why they are not a legal entity?).
The interesting part of these ALL INDUSTRY meeting s is that it is held on the day before the Tow Show, while it is being setup so how can it be ALL INDUSTRY when the operators don t visit until the next day? (or is setup the operative word?). We successfully attended the meeting and Lawrence was amazed to see Labour MP s Andy Woodcock and another MP present, Lawrence s parting comment was something stinks so keep an eye on this lot .
With Lawrence s advice in mind we decided to attend one of these ERRI meetings to find out more. Months later we attended an ERRI meeting and noted those present, we listened and took note of who said what and very little was relevant to the R Licence except the admission from John Coupland that it was pretty much a cut and paste of the O Licence, but it was almost as if they were not prepared to be discussing it in front of outsiders! Strange, very strange was the comment from my right hand man who had just completed 2 year A level in politics.
Nothing seemed to move forwards for quite a while, but yet again at the very next Tow Show ALL INDUSTRY meeting it reared its head again. Ashley Sutton-Counter made one of his memorable speech s pointing to the fact that ERRI s proposal would be entirely voluntary and we already have PAS43 as the industry benchmark and then I pointed out that neither the police nor V.O.S.A would enforce this as it was not an enforceable legal regulation. Their next efforts to gain credibility was the introduction of a consultation document which was supposed to run over a six month period, due to the industry practically ignoring this generating such a low response that they extended it, at this time they did publish a reminder with a thinly veiled threat that the Government would get involved if the result was not satisfactory. Ultimately the dismally low result of 126 people (5.3% of the industry) responded positively to the consultation, but that was out of approximately 2400 recovery operators nationwide. Even if you only base this on only PAS43 registered operators of which there are approximately 465 in the UK it is still only a 27% response.....this poses the question would you like some EPIC with that FAIL, Sir? .
Over the next two years ERRI have pushed hard with V.O.S.A. to gain their backing, however it was at this point that the recovery industry ended up slap bang on V.O.S.A. s radar with record numbers of operators being subjected to roadside checks, historically we were just given the nod, but not now that ERRI had rattled cages!! Ultimately V.O.S.A s head of enforcement Gordon MacDonald held many meetings with ERRI some of which RRRA and others had to request an invite to, but due to overwhelming resistance on the ERRI R Licence they would only commit to a Recovery Guide and nothing further
You would not believe what happens next!! The Department of Transport investigates the removal of the recovery industries exemptions from O Licensing.
Now this does beg the question that after many years of the vehicle recovery industry being left alone why has Department of Transport decided to review the status of our exemption from the operator licensing scheme? The sneaking feeling here is that as all previous avenues of ERRI gathering official support for their beloved R Licence have failed. The members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Transport (that coincidentally 80% of its members are also ERRI members) seem to have now pushed their Chairman into cheerleading for them. This is quite interesting when you look at who his advisor is!! Thankfully the real powers that be, realised that the very nature of our industry is not conducive to work within the framework of an O Licence. They also realised that the original reasons for our exemptions had not changed and are never likely too either.
However this brings us up to this year s ALL INDUSTRY meeting at the Recovery Tow Show (yet again held the day before all the industry visits). Chairman of ERRI AND CEO of A.V.R.O. gave his revised presentation of the R.O.L.S. scheme (the latest name for the R Licence) he explained that the Department of Transport now expect the recovery industry to be fully acceptant of the R.O.L.S. scheme by June / July 2017 or we risk the Department of Transport enforcing the O Licence system.
At the end of ERRI's presentation there was the usual questions and answers session. At this point we took the opportunity to ask the BIG question....(unbeknown to the panel we had previously researched the Department of Transports report on the O Licence exemptions and printed this out). ERRI, you have just stated that the Department of Transport will enforce the O Licence if we don t have agreement with the R.O.L.S. or Recovery standard by June / July 2017 but here I have a copy of the report printed from the Department of Transports own website that clearly states that they have no interest in further regulation of the recovery industry, and even the Transport Minister admits that there is no appetite for such a scheme. Who is telling us the truth? His reply was priceless, coughing and spluttering he passed the session over to (A VERY PINK AND SHEEPISH LOOKING) MP who was present for him to reply... well erm, its erm, IF they came back to this in 5 or 10 or 20 or even 50 years.... FINALLY THE LIE HAS BEEN EXPOSED.
What followed in the next few weeks was quite extraordinary, RRRA had a phone call demanding we apologise to the MP for putting him in such a position after all of the good work he has done for the industry, how dare we ask such a question in public when it should have been asked behind closed doors etc etc (well I never!). We also had interesting conversations with some work providers that sit on the ERRI committee that now do not have the will for this even to the point that at the last ERRI meeting it was agreed to scale it right back and to continue as a lobby group only.
Unfortunately, the CEO of A.V.R.O. and Chairman of ERRI refuses to concede his utopia will not happen. At the last meeting of the SURVIVE Group (this is the group that is responsible for PAS43) the CEO who now has a default seat on the committee as CEO of A.V.R.O. has now suggested the continued promotion of the scheme. It is on the agenda for the February SURVIVE meeting and I can only assume that the SURVIVE group somehow imagine he has the complete backing of all A.V.R.O. members.
RRRA feel that this has now turned into a 1 man crusade and RRRA believe the time has come for the all the behind closed doors meetings to stop.
Does the CEO of AVRO have the backing of all A.V.R.O. members ? We at RRRA would like to hear your comments on this.
So where do we go from here?
Our industry is on its knees and needs the help of all the associations as well as all others connected to our industry and as such RRRA and SVRA are in agreement that now is the time for us to all stand together as OPERATORS and get rid of the Politics and Bullshit and regulations we neither want or need. We want to get back to what we do best RRRA want you ALL to be part of this.
We hold meetings around the country that are OPEN to ALL OPERATORS ..if you believe in our industry as much as we do just contact Linda on 01529 469288 for information or email: firstname.lastname@example.org