With the cost of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for commercial operators having topped £600 million a year, the Freight Transport Association has challenged traffic authorities to sort out 'Critical Delivery Zones'. Traffic authorities, particularly Westminster, Camden and Transport for London (TfL), have too long relied on a lack of clear data as an excuse for not sorting out the desperate shortage of loading and unloading provision in central London. FTA has resolved this by commissioning an in-depth study of delivery 'hotspots' across the capital and producing a clear list of 'Critical Delivery Zones' where traffic authorities need to focus their attention and resources. The study has been part-funded by the TfL Freight Unit.
The four zones are ORB (around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street), Soho/Covent Garden, Holborn, and Tottenham Court Road. In each of these zones there is a demonstrable need to improve access for commercial operators. Some areas need new loading bays, others need more flexibility of current loading limits or a better understanding of the rules by drivers and civil enforcement officers alike.
FTA is not asking traffic authorities to work alone. One of the key challenges is to bring together the various business groups that are already working in these areas – many of which can relieve the problems with more flexible delivery arrangements. FTA has also invested heavily in products to support operators and their drivers in avoiding and managing PCNs and to improve levels of compliance.
FTA's Head of Policy for London, Gordon Telling said, 'Getting a proper plan, including a map based on data from 29 major companies about their PCNs, is a great leap forward. For the first time we can press traffic authorities to invest in the areas that matter most.
'We are in touch with politicians at Westminster, Camden and TfL, urging them to seize this opportunity to support local businesses on their patch by reducing unnecessary PCN costs. We have already met with Westminster, who are keen to use the information in order to drive down costs for everyone and improve compliance. We hope to have the same conversation with the Leader of Camden and with Mayor Johnson soon. We expect those authorities to have clear plans in place before the end of the year.
'FTA has also revamped and updated its range of support products aimed at drivers and managers to help them stay within the law. New guidance is due shortly from the TfL Freight Unit to help traffic authorities better plan the provision of kerbside loading facilities.
'FTA believes that sorting out access in these areas can help remove many of the PCNs that are unfairly issued to its members where there is no adequate loading available. As many of the PCNs issued here are successfully challenged, it will also help traffic authorities reduce their own costs. The benefit to the local economy of reduced PCNs could be as much as £10 million – a much welcome shot in the arm in the current climate.'
PCN costs in the UK have now topped £1.3 billion, of which at least £500 million per year falls to commercial operators. Operators also spend an estimated £100 million processing and appealing PCNs, bringing the total to at least £600 million.
FTA's study involved face-to-face interviews with 29 companies which provided PCN data to support the analysis. Those companies between them were issued with £13 million of PCNs – five of those incurred more than £1million each.
Maps are available from Jackie Langridge in the FTA press office showing the streets that make up the Critical Delivery Zones and the key Red Routes identified in the study. E-mail email@example.com or call 01892 552253.
FTA produces a range of support products – drivers' cards, a PCN management guide, a Code of Practice for Loading and Unloading – and is developing new tools to manage PCNs.
The Transport for London Freight Unit commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), in partnership with FTA, to produce design guidance for local authorities for kerbside loading provision.