Call for Brexit certainty for Scottish hauliers

There are growing calls for increased clarity on what a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean for Scottish hauliers.

Scotland’s cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson stated there needs to be more detail on how this possible outcome could impact the sector in the months ahead.

Calls for clarity not being heeded

Mr Matheson said: “The UK government has to provide urgent advice on how, and when, it will address the very real concerns of our hauliers, their customers and their employees, to allow the industry to plan adequately and ensure its long-term future.”

He argued there should be plans in place for every possible scenario and ‘no deal’ is something that is yet to be fully explored by officials in Westminster.

However, with the deadline for Brexit fast approaching – even with the possibility of a deferred exit date – Scottish haulage providers need to know how to sufficiently prepare for life outside of the EU.

Mr Matheson noted that with no bilateral agreements signed between the UK and EU, and no further information being provided, it is now imperative that action is taken to maintain the smooth operation of many businesses.

At present, there are few businesses that hold the requisite permits to continue operating as normal after Brexit if no deal is struck.

“Scotland’s hauliers and their customers are extremely concerned,” he concluded.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Brexit has the potential to cause significant disruption to Scottish hauliers travelling between the UK and Europe. It therefore requires urgent clarity to allow the industry to effectively plan for the future.”

UK maintains stable van market in February

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have highlighted a “stable” month for light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations in February.

New van registrations in the UK increased by 1.8 per cent year-on-year to 14,384 units last month. Overall, year-to-date registrations were up by 5.8 per cent on the same period of 2018.

LCV market continues to do well

Large vans (2.5 to 3.5 tonnes) drove the majority of growth in February. This segment saw a 4.2 per cent increase in registrations and now makes up 65 per cent of the UK van market.

The UK’s best-selling LCVs in the year to date were shown to be the Ford Transit Custom, Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit Connect and Vauxhall Vivaro.

Responding to the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “While stability in the new van market in February is welcome news, it is important to remember that February is typically a quiet month, as buyers await the March plate change.”

He went on to add that this latest increase follows several months of turbulence for the van sector. At the same time, ongoing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit and a potential no-deal scenario is likely to create “further fluctuation” in the months to come.

Jez Strong, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Van registrations continue to gain strength in the UK. This is extremely positive news for both the fleet and automotive sectors, although the impact of Brexit does create concern moving forward.”

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SEAT announces double-digit sales growth in 2019

One of the UK’s best-loved car makers, SEAT, has announced an impressive start to the new year.

According to the manufacturer’s latest sales figures, the company secured double-digit annual growth in the first two months of 2019.

A winning start to the year for SEAT

Overall, SEAT recorded combined sales of 88,900 cars in January and February this year. It marks the highest two-month start to year sales volume for the company to date and beats the previous record high of 2000.

Indeed, it was an impressive month in February, which saw an 11.4 per cent annual increase to 39,900 vehicles sold. Sales were shown to be especially strong in the UK, Italy and Germany.

Responding to the record performance, SEAT vice-president for sales and marketing and CUPRA CEO Wayne Griffiths stated: “We’re going to display the company’s future at the Geneva Motor Show through concept cars such as the SEAT el-Born and the CUPRA Formentor, which will be included in our model lineup.

“We’re still working on the future with the satisfaction of achieving excellent results in the present and breaking records month after month.”

As mentioned, the marque will be showcasing its latest vehicle line-up at this week’s Geneva Motor Show (March 7 to 17). It promises to be an exciting event for all in attendance and both the SEAT and CUPRA brands will be out in force to impress.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “SEAT is a fantastic brand that UK buyers continue to love. It’s therefore great to see the company going from strength to strength at the start of 2019.”

Courts ‘must get tough’ on penalty points

Vehicle safety and recovery specialist GEM Motoring Assist believes the UK’s courts must apply stricter penalties to individuals who reach 12 penalty points on their licence.

It follows the case of a Swanage driver who successfully held on to his licence despite reaching the 12-point limit after citing ‘exceptional hardship’ in court should it be revoked.

No excuse for reaching the limit

GEM stated: “A driving ban should be inevitable for anyone who has managed to tot up 12 penalty points on their licence.

“It takes a particularly careless, thoughtless or reckless person to reach this level, and their disregard for the law means they each represent a big risk for the rest of us who share the roads with them.”

The body went on to add that individuals who are facing a driving ban for reaching 12 points should have thought long and hard about the consequences of losing their licence before it reached this point.

Courts should be giving more thought to other road users and members of the public when considering cases of ‘exceptional hardship’, GEM maintained. Should these drivers be involved in an accident and be above the 12-point threshold, who really is to blame?

At present, there are almost 11,000 motorists operating in the UK with more than 12 points on their licence.

Jenny Smith, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Motorists who reach the 12-point limit have demonstrated a successive disregard for their own safety and the safety of others. Taking away their licence should be viewed as an act carried out in the public interest.”

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Eight of nine A9 dualling schemes ‘now ready to go’

Eight of the nine remaining dualling schemes to improve the A9 in Scotland are now at the draft order stage, with just one project now outstanding.

Transport Scotland has confirmed that design work for the scheme is drawing to a close, with a last remaining ground investigation project to be carried out next month.

Final stage of groundworks to be completed

Work is set to take place over five weeks from March 4th along a southern stretch of the A9 between Tay Crossing and Ballinluig.

It will include the measurement of traffic volumes along the route throughout the five-week period. Travellers are warned of possible delays as a result of single-lane closures and the installation of temporary traffic lights.

This information gained will be crucial to ensuring the upgraded carriageway remains fit for purpose for years to come.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland stated: “The latest critical investigations starting next Monday are for the section between Tay Crossing and Ballinluig and build on other ground investigations carried out for this scheme late last year.

“We apologise for any inconvenience these works will cause and would thank road users and local communities in advance for their patience during the works.”

The organisation’s representative went on to add that the contractor will be monitoring traffic management efforts at the site throughout the period and will act to ensure that all delays are kept to a minimum.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “Work to upgrade the A9 has been ongoing now for several years. As a result, to finally see the end in sight for the planning phase, and for work to soon begin, is excellent news for road users in Scotland.”