Traffic Commissioners should decide whether future Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) closures should go ahead. So says the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which has been strongly critical of VOSA’s plans to close test centres without having any viable alternatives in place. In the past few months alone, three centres have been closed, leaving commercial vehicle operators high and dry and with no alternative but to travel some distance to fulfil their legal duty.
Peter Staines, Vice Chairman of FTA’s Road Freight Council and member of the South East England Freight Council, said:
"If I change my maintenance arrangements for my fleet I need to get the Traffic Commissioner’s nod that they are ok. By closing test stations, VOSA is changing the arrangements for annual testing on hundreds of operators so why not get the Traffic Commissioners to check that the alternative arrangements offered by VOSA will not jeopardise road safety and operating practices?"
This year VOSA has closed three test centres, in Cornwall, Cheshire and Wales, with a fourth scheduled for closure in West Yorkshire, early next year. The seemingly random closures have made it more expensive and difficult for hauliers to find suitable testing facilities, adding pressure to an already fully-stretched system of testing.
James Hookham, FTA’s Managing Director of Policy and Communications, concluded:
"The bottom line is road safety, and, especially in this heavy recession, we should not be making it harder and more expensive for honest, compliant operators to meet their roadworthiness commitments."