AHAH!! No Devil in the Detail

I was often told as a youngster it is nice to look forward to things but whether I have just been unlucky or it is what Life has dealt me, but I now choose deliberately not to look forward to anything because it is always a disappointment.

I cannot say I was looking forward to the ERRI consultative document on the proposed ‘R’ Licence but I did wonder what it might contain, which is a bit different. And lo and behold I am more disappointed than if I had looked forward to it.

It is often said with these documents the devil is in the detail and quite frankly like previous documents on this subject, there are no details. I suspect there are no details because they have not got any idea how the thing will work and if they have and are not telling us, that is perhaps even worse. Without raking over things I have already said, what I cannot understand about this consultative document is that it does not explain how an ‘R’ Licence would be enforced in Law if it is not a Government or VOSA driven regulation. VOSA already have most of the tools in their kit to regulate the Recovery Industry but at the current time do not appear to have the time or the resources to address issues on a countrywide scale.

An industry standard surely cannot lead to prosecution and a regular diet of prison food. I cannot see how it is going to become compulsory for every single person who does any sort of recovery: it just doesn’t add up, confirming something my father used to say: laws and rules are only for the honest as they are the only people who take any notice.

I really have no problem with the standards that have been suggested because we operate to most of those already. It is more or less PAS 43 with a touch of seasoning. But of course along the line will involve more work and expense to add an ‘R’ Licence to a vehicle.

I do realise that the image of the Recovery Industry needs a kick up the backside at times. Nikki King did say something like “when you see an independent recovery operator at the side of the road, it can often inspire no confidence” and sadly she is right because we often see these operatives in a high-viz garment coated with one kilo of heavy grease and that is an image that we need to get rid of. We need to get near the image demonstrated by the AA and the RAC.

Image perceived or otherwise is one thing; ‘R’ Licensing and regulation are another thing for another day.

But as we know it all comes at a cost.

I recently spoke with Jack Stapleton and he reinforces a thought that I have had for years, which is that as independent Recovery Operators we should have many years ago adopted our own colour scheme and livery like, for example, “Dyno-rod”.

Perhaps it is not too late to make some sort of start and this is the type of thing that ERRI should be promoting. Instead of Recovery vehicles having reflective tape always in squares, why not have it in stars or coloured dots. It could take years to evolve but it is just an add-on to how the work suits have changed and evolved.

What is wrong with promoting PAS 43 and putting a PAS 43 sticker on a vehicle. If we are proud of the standard why not promote it. It may have an odd inconsistency but by and large it is a standard which is recognised in the Industry.

Going back to the ‘R’ Licence I am not changing my stance because I have said it before: I do believe that if it was run from start to finish by the Vehicle Operating Standards Agency, it would sort a lot of things out because it would apply to everyone large or very small. Also, who’s to say the requirements need to be exactly the same, as with an ‘O’ Licence they could be adjusted up or down. Is it still the case that a CPC holder is not required for own goods – so just add “Dash Broken Down Vehicle” for example.

But of course these things take years and by the time it starts to appear, somebody else will have started with another hare-brained scheme.

ERRI say they will have no trouble getting the work-providers to make the ‘R’ Licence compulsory. I would have thought that was no great achievement. But what would be impressive bearing in mind that, historically, the more educated and better qualified people are, they normally receive a higher rate of pay. So, surely, if we are required to meet higher standards and become more skilled, we should have another 50p per job or remain uncertified and earn 50p less.

I did say at the time the opportunity was present when PAS 43 was introduced to reward people for higher standards but that was missed at the time.

The fact that this has dragged on for years is evidence that something that doesn’t look right and doesn’t feel right, probably isn’t right.

Fred Henderson, F.I.M.I.,
Breakdown Doctor.