Rush-hour road bans for plant too harsh, government told


A plant-hire trade body has criticised “stringent and inflexible” police enforcement of road embargo times, ahead of a guidance review next month.

Plant-hire companies are avoiding certain areas for fear of harsh police enforcement, the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) warned yesterday in a letter to transport secretary Mark Harper.

Road embargoes aim to reduce rush-hour traffic by banning heavy vehicles at key times in the morning and evening. Plant owners are often caught in an “impossible position” in which they are asked to remove their machinery from site at the end of the day but cannot do so without breaching the embargo, the letter says.

It also claims that police enforce the rules differently in each constabulary area, naming the West Midlands, Merseyside, Metropolitan and Greater Manchester forces’ actions as being “problematic”. One CPA member was told that they had violated an embargo by just 49 seconds, the trade body said.

“The letter highlights the inconsistent approach being adopted by different police forces, with several being particularly stringent and inflexible in their interpretation and enforcement of embargo times,” it said in a statement.

The association added that mobile crane-hire companies were “seemingly being targeted”.

Guidance on the movement of abnormal indivisible loads, published in 2010 by the now-defunct Association of Chief Police Officers, is set to be reviewed next month.

The CPA wrote: “It is critical this review works for the construction industry and develops a consistent approach if we are to avoid significant costs and productivity impacts across UK construction.”

The trade body cited a report claiming that haulier delays might result in up to £1.5bn in lost economic activity over the next 10 years. The Centre for Economics and Business Research consultancy released the figures this week, as part of a project commissioned by a group of trade bodies headed by the Road Haulage Association.

CPA legal manager David Smith said: “The construction industry is the heartbeat of the economy, with the plant-hire sector critical to the successful development of the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects and the housing we need.

“It is disappointing that the police enforcement teams are taking this approach, to the very real detriment to our members and the long-term viability of their businesses.”

Several other officials received the CPA letter: construction minister Alan Mak; policing minister Chris Philp; roads minister Guy Opperman; shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh; shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds; shadow roads minister Bill Esterson; and Sussex Police chief constable Jo Shiner.

The CPA has more than 1,900 member companies, representing about 85 per cent of the construction industry’s hired-plant supply.

Crane-hire companies are set to coordinate their own action against police transport restrictions. Last week, West Midlands firm ABA Crane Hire issued a call for firms to gather in September to consider what action to take.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the company said: “Our industry as a whole seems to be enduring the same logistical nightmare surrounding embargoes/routing, and [we] seek suitable changes in legislation so the impracticalities they create lessen the impact on businesses and personnel.

“I believe it is time to group together and discuss our options.”

ABA called on crane-hire operators to gather in September at the lifting industry’s Vertikal Days 2024 event in Newark, Nottinghamshire, where the CPA is scheduled to hold a meeting.

“With us all in the same place at the same time, this would be the perfect opportunity to not only see the CPA’s position on this but to voice our concerns and consider the approach or action we need to take,” the firm’s statement said.

The Department for Transport was contacted for comment.



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