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Cippenham and the Industry. .

4th May 1920, Page 1
4th May 1920
Page 1
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Page 1, 4th May 1920 — Cippenham and the Industry. .
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

WE COULD not help feeling, when we read the letter which Mr. H. C. B. Underdown, in'his capacity of president of the Association of British Motor Manufacturers, Ltd., recently communicated to the Press on. the subject of the sale of the Cippenham depot, that it was altogether too. mild in its criticism, and we at once thought that the public, on reading it,' would conclude that the, motor industry had shown'a lamentable lack of enterprise by not striving to secure possession of the depot.

The letter was worded cautiously, Mr. Underdown seemingly refraining from going so far as he could have done, 'Perhaps he started with the intention of not stirring up mud,. but it is to the motor industry arid its powerful influences in Parliament to which the public is justified in looking for some actin which will secure fuller light being %thrown upon I he question of the sale of the depot and the stock of vehicles, and also upon the question of their separate values.

The Government should not have contemplated the disposal of Cippenham without giving the motor trade an opportunity to tender for it_ A group of British . motor vehicle manufacturers would undoubtedly have been the beat 'people totake over the place and the vehicles. Having made the vehicles, they would be compelled to see that their condition was right before they were resold to the public : certainly they would not dream` of going into competition with the user by .the establishment of transport services, or even of advancing sueh a possibility. as • an argument for the transfer of the depot from Government control to private enterprise.

The fault lies with the Government irtimot giving. information to the motor-trade which would have ena. couraged them to make a ,bid for the depot : they were never told that it was intended to be sold and, consequently, the Government deprived any group , of British manufacturers of a chance to show enterprise by purchasing the place, and they, certainly, lost an excellent opportunity of throwing. the blame on the motor trade for not taking it over. The' deal was virtually consummated before anything was • made known about it, and at that stage it was recognized as hopeless to have endeavoured to form a powerful financial group to enter into competition with those tben negotiating with the Government and armed with a mass of inside information.

We contend that in no circumstances should the depot be disposed of without the British motor trade having an opportunity to secure it, and, in any ease, that definite guaranteed should be given to ensure that it shall never come under any form of foreign control. can anyone explain why so little has beensaid about this deal in Parliament?

"‘Money for Nothing": An Erroneous Idea.

THIS .HOMELY expression was used the other i . day n our hearing, with regard to the, possibilities of motor transport. The speaker had been watching a loaded char-h.-banes departing with its load of holiday makers from Albert Square, Man chester, en route for Blackpool.. Unfortunately, there are a great many people who have the same erroneous idea, that they have :only to a thousand .pminds i or so into the business, buy a char-à-banes Or a lorry, and they waimmediately be, ap to speak, on velvet.

It is a great pity that this idea should be prevalent.

The CommerOial Motor has all along warned its readers that, although there are great possibilities in motor transport and there will be more, yet it must be borne steadily in mind that it entails hard work— not merely the physical hard work of driving and keeping the vehicle in good order, but constructive organizing work ; a connection, must be. found, contracts made, return loads found, and the steady detail of keeping the vehicle working efficiently and to its full capacity attended to. One of the optimists told. ua the other day that the owner-driver was bound to Make money easily, on the grounds that he did not have to, pay another Man. and, consequently, the wages question was cut out. Superficially, this is true, but it must be remembered that, if the owner is driving, it is difficult for him to attend to the business side in obtaining contracts to keep. his vehicle busy, and,, in haulage work, organization is of the utrnost.importa.nee. The great problem is the return load, and this is a great stumbling block to many traders. - Undoubtedly many pioneers'have reaped a golden harvest during the last year or two, owing to the shortage of vehicles and similar' difficulties, but chassis are being poured on to the market, new firms are coming into on all side-a, and competi tive rates are beginning to be established. In a short time the whole industry will have settled down to hard, facts, and success will only attend those who are prepared to bring hard, work and careful 'thought and planning into -play in connection with their, business. .. OUR CRITICAL and trenchant contributor, "Th:e Inspector," asks, in his Note Book this week, " Why bother the buyer with details? " Ap

parently, he does. not care for those tables of chassis specifications which The .Con-tinercial Motor is Publishing I We go but a short way in agreeing with him, for we think that, by careful discrimination in, the headings to the columns, the information thus rendered available can be of real service to the potential buyer. We do agree that it is usoless to include the make of carburetter, the type 61 clutch, and various like technical points which can never require to be taken into account when making the purchase of a. chasais. The buyer can, dowa,days, safely throw upon the maker the onus of selecting the right features of his design. Hence, we believe that, in the tables which we are publishing, we give just the essentials towards the selection of a chassis, and no noire.

On the matter of the inclusion of price this rererva tion can be made, that prices are now so unstable that no reliance oan be placed, even by the makers themselves, let alone the buyers, on any published figures, and we regard that particular column as being of relatively. little value at the moment and the information contained in it as being necessary to be treated with reserve. Prices are changing at short intervals, owing tothe extraordinary increases in the cost of labour and material, but the knowledge of that fact is common to all, and therefore such prices as are given can only be taken as a rough and temporary guide. With this_ one exception, we look to our tables of chassis specification as being of such use to our readers all over the world as to ensure their preservation for the remainder of 1920.

Road Signs., SIR ERIC GEDDES has been urged recently in the House of Commons to revise and standardize all road signs with a view to eliminating those shown to be unnecessary and erecting others where required. He has replied to the effect that the County Surveyors' Society have, at his;desire, appointed a committee to consider and advise on the question of road signs generally.

Seeing the prominent part that motoring orga.nizations have borne in the erection of sueh signs where really needed, we would like to suggest most strongly to the Ministry of Transport. that the report of this committee formed among surveyors should not be used as the only basis of any legislation that may be introduced. Surveyors are, by the nature of their work, inclined to become local in theiroutlook. What a man living in a, flat county comes to regard as a very steep hill would, be regarded as a slight gradient by a man familiar with a, very hilly district. The whole question of road, signs needs to be considered from the national and not from the local point of view. It ought not to be considered merely by people representative only of one group of interests concerned. The road sign is required to protect through traffic as well as to protect local _ users of the road. It should not be employed as a means of discouraging through traffic, bat it is likely to be so employed if allth

.e regulations concerning it are framed by people whose professional interests are all in favour of economy in road maintenarke and are not at all concerned with economy in national transport. • The question .asked by Viscount Curzon -indicates the principle which should underlie any sane scheme of road signs. The size, shape and colour of road signs should. be defined by the Ministry of Transport, after Consultation not -only with road surveyors, but with the representatives of the drivers, who are expected to take account of the meaning of the signs shown. The Ministry should have power to insist on the erection of such signs on evidence of the need for them being.produced. It should have equal power to insist on their removal where they appear to be super fluous or; worse gill, misleading. There is nothing so likely to encourage a, driver in— the. reckless disregard of danger signs as frequent experience that.' such signs aae merely put op to make him drive 'slowly, where it is not in the least necessary "that he should do so. The whole. subject needsconsidering from the broadest possible standpoint

The Full Use of Canals.

IN REPLY to a question addressed to him by Mr. Sugden, the Minister of Transport has. stated that our canals are now carrying traffic to the full capacity of the craft available, having regard to the effect of the eight-hour day. We venture to suggest that this reply does not take full a-cootint 0,r the possibility of increasing the capacity of such craft by providing existing barges with motel.' power. We are, of course, aware that the condition of _ manx of otir canals is such that they cannot at the. present moment stand a great deal of comparatively rapid motor barge traffic. There must, however, be considerable reaches in which such traffic could be conducted without undue injury to, the canal banks. It may be argued that the work of conversion of existing barges into motor barges would be a slow and costly business, leading to a temporary but fairly prolonged reduction in the number of craft available at the moment. We believe that the solution may well be found to lie in the fitting of outboard sets such as are now upon the market, and for a supply of which we are fortunately no longer wholly dependent upon imports. The question is one with which our contemporary., The Motor Boat is more directly concerned.; but we feel justified in referring to it on the grounds that a, fuller appreciation of the advantages of motor power in any one field must react so as to bring about accelerated development in the same direction in

other quarters. . The use of commercial vehicles upon the roads should serve to teach those who convey goods by water and, equally, the successful employment of motor installations on canal Craft should serve to hasten the re-organisation of the less up-to-date users of the -roads who, in such circumstances, would begin to see a danger of traffic being diverted from them.

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