ATF Operators Association Update July 2020

ATFOA have a voice in the House of Lords – Lord Attlee is to table an amendment to The Business and Planning Bill

What is the Business and Planning Bill?

The official line suggests this Bill is part of the Government’s plan to ensure economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. As the economy starts to re-open, the Government is committed to doing all it can to support recovery, help businesses adjust to new ways of working and create new jobs. 

In the detail is the devil
Amongst other things, The Bill will make it easier to temporarily exempt goods vehicles, buses and coaches from roadworthiness testing.

Why is this significant?
This move supports our argument that the governments intended policy appears to prioritise and protect the welfare of the DVSA over their responsibility towards vehicle roadworthiness and the stakeholder’s who depend on this industry. If vehicle safety was the priority, then the obvious and most feasible solution would be to allow delegated testing so heavy goods vehicle testing could continue in the same way preventative maintenance and vehicle inspection has continued during the lockdown.

Why are they making vehicle testing exemption decisions easier? 
ATFOA believe one of the main contributory factors was the realisation that DVSA have always been challenged with supplying testers to the market. The ATF contract, up to now, indemnified ATF’s against DVSA tester no shows. DVSA were contracted to pay a fine to ATF’s as recompense for any failure in the supply of testers. The new ‘Side letter’ has removed any risk for DVSA to supply testers (at the industry’s expense) and the new legislation further reduces DVSA responsibility to supply testers reliably as they can wave the ‘exemption flag’ at any time the supply of testers becomes stressed. 

This is not good for industry compliance and safety – we need consistency

There are already large scale reports from ATF members that DVSA have taken this opportunity to use the new terms from the ‘Side Letter’, to further reduce the supply of testers to the market. Most ATF’s have reported that their requests for testers, even using the new 7 day notice period, have been only partly honoured. The difference now, is that DVSA and government have engineered it so that they do not forfeit any payment to ATF’s for a no show.

What else is detrimental to ATF’s in the post COVID landscape
If you are looking for further evidence to support the realisation that the landscape and relationship between DVSA and ATF’s is being devalued (to the expense of ATF’s), then look no further than the latest demand to erode ATF’s revenue further: ATF’s are no longer able to carry out voluntary tests when DVSA testers are on site.

What pain are DVSA taking to help their partners?
Considering ATF’s have had their revenue reduced to zero because of the flawed logic to exempt heavy goods vehicle testing whilst government guidelines permitted vehicle repairs and inspection, ATF’s have now been told that they are not allowed to earn income from voluntary tests, coupled with reports that, despite the 7 day notice period, many ATF’s hadn’t heard until 3 days prior what their allocation was, we have not seen any evidence that DVSA are offering any assistance or taking up any slack for their partners. It is clear that their policy is for ATF’s to inherit the problems (not of their making) and pay for everything.

What opportunity presents itself with the Bill?

The Business and Planning Bill refers specifically to HGV and PSV testing, so it is reasonable and fair to take this opportunity to table amendments to provide for qualified testers employed by ATF’s.  The amendment would go in after clause 13.  

In the lead up to this opportunity, Lord Attlee has already been busy by asking questions to her Majesty’s Government.

Letter 1 – Question 1:
The Earl Attlee 
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to require statutory inspections of boilers and pressure vessels to be conducted by inspectors who they (1) appoint, and (2) fund. HL55n77

Letter 1 – Answer 1:
Baroness Steadman-Scott: 
Under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 the users and owners of boilers and pressure vessels have a statutory duty to have them examined by a competent person at periods specified in a written scheme of examination. 

Her Majesty’s Government has no plans to appoint inspectors or fund inspections to deliver these statutory inspections. 

Letter 2 – Question 2
The Earl Attlee (For written answer).
To ask HMG:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to require statutory inspections of:
mobile cranes of over 10,000 kgs lifting capacity,
fixed cranes of over 10,000 kgs lifting capacity,
electrical installations in public buildings, and
passenger lifts
to be conducted by inspectors who they (1) appoint, and (2) fund.

Letter 2 – Answer – Awaiting response from HMG

Why are we asking these questions in particular?

By asking these questions, Lord Attlee is hi lighting the flawed logic. On the one hand – government is funding and appointing testers, via DVSA, to inspect vehicles, on the other hand, the government allows expert private sector employees to deliver the statutory inspections. The logic follows; If the government has mandated that dangerous pressure systems, boilers, mobile cranes, fixed cranes, electric installations and passenger lifts, to be inspected by industry experts, and has no plans to change this, then why should goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles be treated differently?

The outlook is grim, ATF’s, bus operators and hauliers are asking; would the outlook be so grim if the industry could be responsible for supplying their own expert testers so we could just get on with it. The argument for some form of delegated testing is stronger now that it has ever been.

Please pledge your support for ATFOA by becoming a paid up member.

Thank you for reading

Stephen Smith

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