Some are born to lead; some are born to follow; and others to take what they can get.

I have just opened the latest edition of Professional Recovery, only to find a further up-date in legislation in the form of an up-dated PAS 43. While this in itself is probably no big deal, it is the constant barrage and pummeling that our industry is being subject to that continually irritates not only me but 97.5% of other recovery operators.

Once upon a time, as little as 10 years ago, most recovery businesses were operated by people who owned or supervised and people who worked and created the means of wealth and support of the Company, and that is how it appears to have been since time began.

But now not only our industry but many others have a third dimension, a quango of leeches that basically have no ability to create wealth of their own other than to extract it from other peoples’ businesses.

The situation appears to stem from the Public Sector where for every person doing a job there is another person watching them and monitoring them. Just divide the total staff of a hospital by the doctors, nurses, porters, etc.

I ask myself, as other operators must, how the hell have we let this happen? The truth is like any addiction or disease it creeps up unsuspectingly until it becomes too difficult to control, often leading to the host dying, which is of course what is sometimes happening.

Contrary to what people may feel reading this, I am not against positive and constructive regulation, I am not against having people correctly and thoroughly trained to do the job, it is the way it is all being done, the way that people are installing themselves, taking money from businesses, usually exorbitant amounts.

The problem is that once these – call them what you like, I will use the word “quango” – get a taste for the ease with which money can be extracted in the name of “Training”, “Health and Safety”,“Consultancy”, “Risk Assessment” and so forth, the list seems never-ending, they simply cannot help themselves any more.

I hear stories of thousands of pounds changing hands to get permission to be a “trainer”, monies paid for training and then a similar amount for a certificate. Even stories of a “Limited Company” set up presumably to channel funds and I have to assume that there is no smoke without fire money which sooner or later is recovered from us by one means or another. These groups appear to have forgotten the interests of the people they are supposed to serve – US!

The only thing that is greater than their urge to introduce more rules, is their desire to ensure that they themselves survive, doing so by inventing new rules often using as a standard ploy, among other things, scare mongering, the most recent one being the bantering about of the Corporate Manslaughter rules. I ask the question of someone with a better legal brain than myself, that this is new wording for something that in reality has always been a threat, and rightly so, to someone who has a duty of care to
their workforce.

Am I not right if I say at the present time there does not appear to have been a successful prosecution for Corporate Manslaughter or perhaps not even a case. But of course over the last 40 years many people have been prosecuted and sometimes sent to prison when their workers have been neglected and accidents have happened. Nothing at all wrong with this situation but how much money is being made out of the Corporate Manslaughter agenda. Surely this is designed for bigger companies (bigger than most recovery operators) where the directors are remotely partying on pink gin when one of their staff, 200 miles away, is involved in an incident that they should know about.

If we turn the clock back to when the Police contracts first started, professional training was required: no one objected because it was a necessary thing to have. Operators were generally unhappy when PAS 43 was introduced, not because it tidied up a few elements but it was the start of the cost of proving a business that was up to standard for a motoring organisation being transferred from that association to the actual recovery operator.

In other words, instead of every club inspecting every operator, the operator paid his money and faxed his documents. Over the last three or four years in particular what was a few hundred pounds to conform is, one way and another, heading to becoming a few thousand. And this is money that is disappearing out of our businesses the same way as fuel goes out the exhaust.

The Government’s decision to insert FMG between the customer and the operator is the best example of a completely unnecessary quango operation. Everybody I talk to would like the Police to have the Government funding and run it as Police. It is hardly fair to criticise FMG in the operation as they are just pawns in an ever-increasingly greedy society. If it wasn’t them it would be somebody else.

Mark my words (you read it here) it will not be long before big management companies running Police contracts acquire a taste for a bigger slice of the job as the FMG Highways does now.

I spoke to one recovery operator recently who told me that if he goes ahead with his FMG contract it will be 2018 before he get his money back(presumably due to the small number of jobs pro-rata to the set-up).

Years ago I was warned how the mind can be brain-washed and conditioned and I was made aware how dangerous this can be. What I have seen over the last six or eight years is a combination of brain-washing and subliminal promotion of all these costly add-ons. Even this magazine continues to promote ideas that should have been binned before they were even aired. I understand why the recovery associations find it hard to stand up against these people, though I have to say I think Peter Cosby of the RRRA knows where I am coming from. He has always had a strong opinion on the way the industry has been pushed and shoved perhaps because he has never given up working in it.

It is also worth noting that while all this is going on the clubs are getting a slightly easier ride over their lower rates. They quite rightly don’t care as long as the jobs get done on time.

If we are to have rules it should be British Government legislation because it is usually well thought out; once implemented there are no further costs, no Quango inspection and if you don’t conform you finish up getting prosecuted by the Police, taken off the road by VOSA, sometimes both, and can still finish up with a heavy fine and prison. But if you do everything right there are little further costs. An example of this was the introduction of the tachograph rules.

This compares to the annual inspection fee for a Quango regulation. Just in case anyone wonders, my Company is certified to PAS 43, has fully-trained and certified staff, a well-written Health and Safety policy with appropriate Risk Assessment, all at a cost, but I am still not happy about it all. Because all of this makes my business no better or no better perceived by our customers and brings me no more work.

A company is like a wild beehive where the working bees are the ones that generate the honey for the queen and the community. If predators get into the hive and take the best honey, when the winter comes the whole hive can die; the eco-system does not cater for interlopers.

Fred Henderson,
Breakdown Doctor,
Durham City.

Fred Henderson’s views are not necessarily the views of Recovery World.

Recovery World would like to thank Professional Recovery Magazine for allowing us use of this article.