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FTA slashes £5 million from operators PCN bill

The Freight Transport Association has led the way on recent changes to kerbside loading limits that have seen Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for some operators fall by 75 per cent.

FTA campaigned for kerbside loading limits for commercial operators to be raised from 20 to 40 minutes after 11am and the recent pilot by Westminster City Council has seen PCNs for overstaying those limits halved, with some operators reducing PCN costs by 75 per cent at a stroke.

Previously operators were able to take 'as long as necessary' to make deliveries before 11am but were limited to just 20 minutes between 11am and 6.30pm. For many operators this meant that as soon as they had taken longer than 20 minutes they would get a ticket, even if the job was nearly complete. Making smaller deliveries would mean more mileage as well as higher environmental and financial costs.

FTA worked with Westminster City Council and London Councils to get the limit raised to 40 minutes. Overall, Westminster reports that PCNs issued over the first three months for that particular contravention have fallen by 48 per cent (2,250 fewer PCNs) which equates to an annual saving of over £1 million in Westminster alone. If the pattern is the same in the other London boroughs then the saving is likely to be nearer to £5 million across London.

Jim Valentine, Director of Jayhawk – a fine art handing specialist – reported that PCNs had fallen by three-quarters following the changes. He said, 'Our company only moves fragile and valuable works of art. With consignments that may be worth millions of pounds there is no possibility of rushing to get the job finished. As our shortest collections take about twenty six minutes, we often got PCNs at twenty minutes when we were nearly done. The change to 40 minutes has made an enormous difference to us.'

Another familiar operator is 3663, which has been responsibly reducing its carbon footprint and its operating costs by optimising loads at its depots to reduce the number of deliveries. Unfortunately this meant that deliveries were taking longer and drivers were falling foul of the 20-minute limit. Graham Rennie, Director of Fleet at 3663 said, 'Operators are under tremendous pressure to reduce costs and minimise their carbon footprint but too often the restrictions on the street work against us. These recent changes have helped us towards staying legal and meeting our customers' expectations.'

Westminster's Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Councillor Danny Chalkley, said, 'These new rules have been extremely successful for lorry and larger van drivers whilst ensuring that the city's traffic isn't adversely affected and keeps on flowing. Giving drivers an extra 20 minutes has made all the difference between finishing their delivery in an adequate amount of time and getting a ticket. I am sure the time extension will continue to be a success with local businesses and help delivery companies to keep their costs down.'

Gordon Telling, FTA's Head of Policy for London said, 'PCNs received when deliveries were being made legally but took longer than 20 minutes were some of the most contentious for commercial vehicle operators. Finding suitable loading spaces and completing deliveries legally is always challenging and there is no one simple solution. However, FTA worked closely with Westminster City Council to tackle this particular problem and feedback from operators speaks for itself: some FTA members whose deliveries take longer than 20 minutes have reported a 75 per cent reduction in the PCNs they have received from Westminster since the trial started – a fantastic result. The changes do not benefit all operators, but they have made a big difference to commercial operators as a whole.

'There have been some hiccups with other boroughs which have abolished the ability to load for 'as long as necessary' before 11am – a move that FTA continues to lobby against. 'However, there is a critical mass of boroughs who see the sense in keeping the 11am threshold and we are confident that we can get consistency across the capital.

'The next chapter in FTA's work will be to reduce the number of PCNs issued where a delivery is being made legally but where the Civil Enforcement Officer (formerly Parking Attendant) issues a PCN for lack of evidence because a driver is away from the vehicle. We are already working closely with a number of London boroughs on this and expect results soon.'

4,700 PCNs were issued in Westminster to HGVs for stopping on yellow lines where loading is not allowed between January and March 2007.

Under Westminster's pilot, 2,450 PCNs were issued for the same period in 2008. This is a reduction of 2,250 PCNs or 48 per cent.

The move from 20 minutes to 40 minutes for kerbside loading was agreed by the London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee in June 2007 and largely came into force on 1 April 2008.

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