EU changes to the O-licensing system
Fresh from the controversy created by the consultation into Senior Traffic Commissioner’s guidance and directions comes another government consultation, this time on changes to the way hire and reward operators are licensed.
EU rules covering the way in which operators are licensed will change in December and as a result the UK needs to consult the industry on how it intends to implement these changes.
One effect will be to make all member states establish a register of operators, just like the UK already possesses, and for them to act on information from agencies such as VOSA when foreign hauliers commit infringements in this country.
Transport Minister Mike Penning says this will help to level the playing field for UK operators because it creates a mechanism for ensuring enforcement agencies can report illegal activity by foreign vehicles to other member states.
This is all well and good, if it works – you only need to look at the chaos surrounding the move from a paper-based VAT refund system to online processing in European countries to see how badly administrative tinkering can go wrong.
But perhaps of more or concern, or interest, is how the industry will respond to the areas the consultation exercise is specifically seeking views on, particularly given the response to the STC’s recent proposals.
Just as in that exercise there are chapter headings for parts of the licensing system like Transport Managers, Financial Standing, Professional Competence and so on.
The role of the transport manager has long been a bone of contention among VOSA, traffic commissioners, hauliers, perhaps even traffic managers themselves.
In the STC’s consultation the FTA wasn’t happy about the way in which the ‘table of hours’ worked for a traffic manager could, and is, being misinterpreted, as well as the perceived limitations it places on the number of vehicles for which they are responsible.
It will therefore be fascinating to see what the overall response is to these latest changes, which include limiting consultant transport managers to having responsibility for a maximum of four operators “with a combined maximum total fleet of 50 vehicles.”
* The consultation can be downloaded here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/2011-11/
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