A call to the new mayors – focus on freight

Over the past few months, the RHA has been urging the mayoral candidates to focus on freight and recognise the vital role of our industry in enabling economic growth. Earlier this year, we published our manifesto for the Combined Authorities which you can view here and we've hosted meetings, visits and events with key mayors over the past year. Combined Authorities play a crucial role in strategic planning in the UK, particularly in transport, skills and business support.

They have an important role in creating the conditions to optimise freight movements, alleviate congestion and enhance economic productivity. As we enter another period of slow economic activity, it is essential Combined Authorities continue to support hauliers and coach operators so that when the economy is ready to grow again, the road haulage and coach industries are there to deliver that growth. Local government often suffers from "freight blindness" when it comes to planning, with local politicians focused solely on managing car-related traffic issues.

Combined Authorities however are well-placed to rectify this through their strategic oversight by ensuring that all travel needs, including the freight and coach sectors, are accommodated. In this way, knee-jerk reactions which damage businesses are avoided. Following the elections, we are calling for the new mayors to set out plans for:

Clear and coherent road freight strategies, developed in consultation with the industry, that support businesses and the transition to Net Zero. Educating constituent local authorities and officials on the importance, role and operations of the road haulage and coach industries and ensure full consultation and collaboration on any polices that would affect operations e.g. air quality controls, traffic congestion measures, road safety policies. Allocation of devolved transport funding to create a defined list of local road improvements to support schemes that improve important regional freight corridors and East-West connectivity.

Addressing the skills shortage in the road transport sector requires collaborative efforts between industry, local authorities, and government to attract, train, and retain talent, ensuring the sustainability of supply chains and the viability of essential services. Skills Bootcamps have proven to be a highly effective way to quickly provide training to jobseekers, and it is vital they are supported. While not every area is under the same pressure to train new HGV drivers, it is vital provision is maintained so that when economic activity picks up again new drivers can be trained without delay.

The RHA and its members are committed to working alongside the mayors and Combined Authorities to support commercial vehicle operators and to boost local economies and we look forward to meeting the mayors over the coming months.

Declan Pang, RHA public affairs and policy director