Driving To Deliver Your Business

Road Haulage Freight Interests Welcome Minister's Slap in the Face for Mayor

Penalties for London Traffic Offences Not Set to RiseShipping News Feature UK – Chris Grayling delivered a metaphorical slap in the face this month to London Mayor Sadiq Khan when he refused to sanction Transport for London’s (TfL[1]) request to raise Penalty Charges Notices (PCN’s) from current levels. The GBP130 charge was set to increase to GBP160 (or GBP65 to GBP80 for early payment). Road freight interests praised the move which the haulage sector viewed as no more than a revenue raising exercise.

The fines cover offences including driving in bus lanes[2] and parking[3] offences but are generally policed by cameras which often do not give a true picture of the circumstances.

In one case (for which we have seen the video) a driver pulls across a bus lane quite legally to enter a delivery point. The gates inside the entrance are closed so he swings back out into the traffic behind the truck he was in front of seconds before. This was deemed as driving in a bus lane ‘to gain an advantage’ even after appeal.

TfL resources are reported to be shrinking of late after the reported loss of government funding and stagnating passenger numbers. Mayor Khan reported to the minister that the current level of charge was an inadequate deterrent which needed a substantial increase, something scorned by Mr Grayling who, in a leaked letter to the mayor said he didn’t accept the deterrent was insufficient and such a significant rise was inappropriate given ‘the financial pressures experienced by many motorists across the capital’. He went on to say:

“Having considered the evidence carefully, I do not accept that there has been a consistent deterioration in driver behaviour, and consequently I do not agree that it is necessary or reasonable to increase the penalty charge level by 23% per cent. I have come to the view that the proposed TLRN [TfL road network] penalty charge level would be excessive, and I have therefore decided to intervene.” TfL stated subsequently that overall the number of PCNs had increased in recent years, with much of the problem being repeat offenders ignoring the current penalty levels which it felt were an insufficient as ‘a deterrent for a small number of drivers who are increasingly flouting the rules.’ The logical argument in this case would surely be to prosecute those drivers for the range of offences which could then be said to have occurred, each of which carries more severe penalties (although none of which would mean any of the cash ending up in the TfL coffers).

The Mayor would seem to be hoist by his own petard as his fare freeze policy has contributed to a reported GBP968 million loss for this year with the resultant temporary cessation of several major projects improving London’s Underground lines. One body delighted with Mr Grayling’s move is the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which has been in the vanguard of critics to the Mayor’s plans on this issue. A clearly delighted Head of Urban Policy at the FTA, Natalie Chapman, commented:

“The FTA raised its very serious concerns about these increases from the outset. I am relieved Mr Grayling was able to see the injustice of the plans and intervene to stop them. Many freight companies are struggling in the current economic climate, and piling on yet another business cost could have been disastrous for the smooth movement of goods around the capital and may have had a serious impact on its trading future.

“TfL’s own research points to a growth in repeat offending, which means many of the vehicles getting these penalty notices are likely to be trucks and vans. They need to park on red routes to complete vital collections and deliveries. In many cases, there is simply nowhere else for drivers to stop legally.

“No responsible truck operator wants to break the law, and keeping Red Routes moving is in everyone’s interests.

The FTA is keen to work with TfL to find a solution to these problems.

Freight is the Capital’s lifeline and the companies which keep the city moving should not be penalised for doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.”

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  1. ^ TfL (tfl.gov.uk)
  2. ^ bus lanes (tfl.gov.uk)
  3. ^ parking (tfl.gov.uk)

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