The Freight Transport Association’s freight councils have a well-earned reputation for turning powerful argument into demonstrable achievement; from defeating poorly devised and potentially counter-productive proposals to make ‘eco-driving’ a mandatory part of professional driver training, to seeing off EU proposals banning operators from calibrating their own tachographs.

    FTA’s Road Freight Council can lay claim to being behind various significant wins for road transport operators. And from April, Eric Fisher, the Transport Improvement Manager at Abbey Corrugated, hopes to leave his own legacy as its new Chairman.

    Having been Chairman of FTA’s East of England Freight Council for the last four years, Eric is delighted to take up the mantle of National Road Freight Chairman, which has the responsibility of facilitating all of the nine English regional councils, along with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish councils, at a national level.

    He said:

    “I am delighted to have been elected Chairman of FTA’s Road Freight Council, a position which brings with it a healthy degree of expectation that I am keen to meet. It is an honour to be the Chairman of a council which represents some of the most cutting-edge logistics companies in the UK, but it is not without its challenges; some discussions are as lively as they are incisive!

    “The quality and depth of discussion is reflected by the quality of those who have taken the rostrum at our council meetings at national level and across the country. From VOSA CEO Alastair Peoples and Philip Brown, the first statutory Senior Traffic Commissioner, to key figures from the Highways Agency, local authority planners, private infrastructure providers, local VOSA managers and Traffic Commissioners, FTA’s councils have a direct line in to those that shape the UK logistics landscape, and I am committed to maintaining this high-level dialogue.”

    Under the outgoing Chairman, Peter Staines of M&S Transport Temperature Control, discussion emanating from FTA’s Road Freight Council achieved:

    • Avoidance of poorly conceived ‘eco-driving’ mandate as part of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence – discussions in freight councils provided the ‘real world’ experiences for FTA to construct a clear argument as to why fuel efficient driving training should not be mandated in Driver CPC.
    • EU regulations on changes to operator licensing (implemented December 2011) – following evidence gathered at freight councils, FTA secured assurances from the Department for Transport that large, group-structured logistics companies would continue to have their transport managers recognised as ‘internal’ under the new arrangements; DfT’s response to the consultation clearly stated that FTA’s argument on the continuation of Grandfather Rights had been more compelling than any other stakeholder and thus the burden of the process was significantly reduced.
    • EU proposals on digital tachographs – through Road Freight Council, FTA developed the argument for the Department for Transport to take to Brussels to defeat proposals that operators should not be allowed to calibrate their own tachographs.

    Fisher concluded:

    “It is always a pleasure to partake in FTA councils, the discussions from which go on to inform FTA’s work and research. But they are not talking shops, far from it; engaging in FTA freight councils gives participants demonstrable influence.

    “Expectations for 2012 and beyond are as high as ever. Recent discussion items that we hope to bear fruit in the near future include the impact of metal theft, alternative fuel use and our strong recommendations on how to improve the quality and accuracy of Operator Compliance Risk Scoring. As Chairman I will do my utmost to ensure that our manifold objectives are given the oxygen they need to succeed.”