FTA hits back in 38 tonne costs row
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THE 38-TONNE weights row between the Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association took another twist last week with the FTA accusing the RHA of misunderstanding its figures.
The row broke out after FTA management chief Martin Downer produced figures which suggested that 38-tonners could lead to a six per cent reduction in operating costs (CM, March 12). RHA director-general Freddie Plaskett hit back, saying the figures were suspect and confirmed hauliers' fears that heavier lorries would benefit customers at hauliers' expense.
Mr Plaskett's FTA counterpart, Hugh Featherstone, responded on Thursday last week, saying the RHA had misunderstood the FTA's comments and that savings of between six and eight per cent could be expected where 38-tonners replaced 32.5 tonners.
"But the impact of that upon the haulage rate is a matter for commercial negotiation in the market place. Neither the FTA nor RHA can change that fact and it would be incredible if anyone thought otherwise," Mr Featherstone added.
He went on to refute Mr Plaskett's implication that the Downer figures were "pie in the sky", saying: "It will be more in some cases, less in others. Horses for courses is the name of the game, but the average benefit is likely to be in that range."
Mr Featherstone claimed nobody had suggested that the 38tonner would be a universal boon, but added: "The woeful willies who had poured cold water on the benefits should have been at the three seminars which the FTA ran recently with Motor Transport."
He said over 700 operators paid "good money" to assess whether the 38-tonner would help them, and added that straw polls conducted at the seminars showed half intended to use 38tonners in the course of this year.
"For many, it will be a gradual process. There will be no overnight replacement of whole fleets. But the trend is clear cut. It should be to the benefit of the industrialist and the haulier alike, and also to Britain," he added.
The RHA declined to comment further this week, but it is understood that the two directors general have been in contact by phone.