What's Your View on Road Charging

RHA fuel protest statement PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 30 November 2007

At its board meeting on 29 November, directors of the Road Haulage Association discussed at considerable length the rising price of diesel fuel, including the impact of the increase in fuel duty implemented in October. The board was mindful of the concerns of some members that more action was needed to combat these increases.

To assist the board in its deliberations RHA staff had sampled opinion of members to ascertain support for more public demonstration against rising fuel prices.  Over 8000 members were either emailed or faxed, coupled with consultation at RHA regional councils and area briefings.

From this extensive exercise it was clear that there was no universal mood to embark upon a series of public protests.

“Gauging views via correspondence is notoriously difficult to do in terms of obtaining a response” said RHA Chief Executive Roger King, “such exercises normally only ever get a 4 to 5 per cent return and this was no exception.  It is fair to say the majority that did make their feelings known favoured action but not all of these were prepared to commit vehicles and no consensus was evident in either time or place”.

The RHA board felt that whilst the exercise was far from perfect in arriving at a definitive view it did achieve enough to confirm that RHA membership has not indicated general willingness to embark upon a programme of public protest.

“It was reasonably clear to us that to initiate a nationwide protest would not attract the support needed to make it credible”, said RHA Chairman Willie Oliver.  “Nevertheless we were also told in no uncertain terms that the RHA must keep up the pressure on government to fulfil the promise made by the prime minister Gordon Brown in 2001 when as Chancellor he promised reform of lorry taxation.  This was abruptly withdrawn four years later. 

"Members are angry and feel deceived.  It was also evident that if next April’s 2ppl duty increase goes ahead then all bets are off.  The mood could abruptly change and attitudes harden.  We will certainly revisit this exercise between now and then to once again gauge members response”.

The board confirmed that the RHA will campaign on this issue in the following way:

  • We will continue to press government ministers and other political parties on the disastrous impact of high fuel prices on UK hauliers. 
  • Pursue an increase in VAT on diesel by converting existing duty rates into a higher VAT reclaimable by hauliers.  Correspondence has already taken place between RHA and the EU Commission taxation department on this suggestion.
  • RHA Scotland has launched a petition to the Scottish Parliament seeking a freeze on next April’s duty increase and the introduction of a fuel duty regulator.
  • Members to be encouraged to write letters to their Members of Parliament outlining the difficulties faced by the industry in the face of rising fuel prices and to visit MP surgeries.
  • The RHA has written to the CBI seeking support in its campaign to stop any further duty increases in the interest of UK plc’s competitiveness.
  • A request to the DfT and VOSA to accelerate inspections targeted on vehicles engaged in international journeys and in the UK.
  • To support any group of members who wish to exercise public protest in a locality of their choosing.
  • To highlight to members and their customer that the inflationary surge in operating costs, which has been made worse by the fuel duty increase, must be fully recognised in haulage rates. *
  • The RHA is to launch a “Stop (another) 2p fuel tax” campaign in order to highlight and prevent next April’s increase.

“Even though this is an extensive list this is not a definitive one by any means”, said Roger King “We will exploit every avenue to press home our case.  Our survey suggests this is an industry coiled like a spring; tense and expectant.  We urge government to listen and take action.  That is the conclusion we have reached.  We think it unwise to ignore it”.

* The RHA’s annual cost survey showed an 8.22% increase in costs for the year to September 30.  Since then, diesel prices have increased by a further 10%
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