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Mercedes-Benz dealer Orwell leads from the front

The key role played by one of Britain’s leading commercial vehicle dealers in supporting VOSA’s drive to raise truck and van testing standards has been underlined at a VIP opening event.

Alastair Peoples, Chief Executive Officer of the Government’s Vehicle & Operator Services Agency, cut the ribbon to mark the official launch of Orwell Truck & Van’s new Authorised Test Facility (ATF).

It has been developed at a cost of more than £600,000 and is located at the dealer’s Ipswich headquarters – Orwell Truck & Van is the manufacturer’s representative for East Anglia, and also has outlets in Norwich, Colchester and Newmarket.

A leading figure within the industry, Orwell Managing Director David Grant sits on the Franchised Dealer National Executive Committee of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, and Chairs its 13-member Truck Council.

Also attending Monday’s (11 June) ceremony were major fleet customers of Orwell Truck & Van and senior figures from Mercedes-Benz UK, including Simon Oldfield and Ian Dutfield, respectively the manufacturer’s Customer Services Managing Director and Director of Commercial Vehicle Customer Services.

Until recently VOSA has carried out all mandatory annual MoT tests of heavy trucks at its own centres. Now, though, the private sector is being encouraged to provide Authorised Testing Facilities that must conform to stringent criteria, and in which the tests themselves are still carried out by VOSA’s own inspectors.

Like other dealers in the Mercedes-Benz UK network, Orwell Truck & Van has been quick to seize the chance to offer operators a quick and convenient local service. Its new lane is housed in a purpose-built unit and features a 16-metre inspection pit, as well as new equipment including brake roller and headlight alignment testers, and ‘shaker’ plates.

David Grant commented: "The commercial vehicle working group I chair has been working closely with VOSA for some eight years on the development of the ATF concept. But it’s only since he became Chief Executive in 2009 that Alastair Peoples has accelerated the process and made it a reality.

"He and I have established an excellent working relationship over the last three years. Alastair’s great strength is that although he’s running an enforcement agency, and could easily have adopted a dictatorial approach by focusing solely on issues of compliance, he’s actually fostered a genuine spirit of partnership with the industry.

"He appreciates the financial implications of ATF development for a dealer like ourselves, and understands that we need to make a return on our investment."

Orwell Truck & Van’s new ATF is open round-the-clock from Monday mornings until Saturday afternoons, and – unlike some other testing facilities in the region – can accommodate trucks and trailers of all sizes.

Orwell’s own technicians are also trained in tachograph calibration and offer MoT tests on vehicles of all marques in the Class 4 (cars, vans and small minibuses up to 3.0 tonnes gross weight), Class 5 (buses with up to 15 passenger seats, as well as ambulances), and Class 7 (vans up to 3.5 tonnes gross weight) categories.

Alastair Peoples said: "Orwell’s ATF has been purpose-designed and constructed, and offers a truly comprehensive service. As such, it’s exactly what we were looking for when we embarked on this process, and represents valuable additional testing capacity."

And he added: "Under David’s leadership the RMI’s Franchised Dealer National Truck Council has worked with us in a spirit of openness and co-operation on the development of the ATF strategy. As a result, new testing facilities such as the one opened by Orwell Truck & Van and are now making life easier and more convenient for operators nationwide."

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