Having opened my Professional Recovery magazine, once again I find the G (whatever number you want to put with that) Group are still trying to “unite the industry and speak with one voice”, but then proceed to slag off AVRO for no just reason. A straw poll in my region indicates 100% support for their actions. The three associations that have removed themselves from the G Group are in fact the ones that are most united. I have to say that without a doubt there are more members like me than there are those associated with the people connected with the G Group. I would even go so far as to say that if you want a united and like-minded group of operators, you need to look no further than the AVRO and RRRs membership and I strongly suspect that the Scottish association members are just the same.
First of all we must underline what is wrong with our industry. There probably is not as many things wrong with it as people make out. The thing that we would most like to see improved is a better rate of remuneration; also it is not fair the way that one or two of the bigger clubs are suppressing operators on contract; then there is the Highways Agency, which is ridiculous; and we would like as little new regulation as possible.
We then must ask ourselves, who can put these things right? And I donâ€™t think this or any other group of people, meeting anywhere, will ever do anything. It needs an outstanding â€˜Supremoâ€™, one outstanding person who pulls things and people together and then takes them with him (or her). This person will need to be paid to reinforce their position and their impartiality: donâ€™t forget the old adage â€“ a camel is a horse designed by a committee (or a group of people).
On the point of regulation there only seems to have been about three big regulation changes in recent years: the MoT on transporters; driversâ€™ hours; and now further testing on recovery vehicles. None of which, I would have thought, was a problem: all these things were certainly necessary.
In the meantime we have had a whole raft of voluntary and self-imposed regulations, for better or worse, and many of these self-imposed regulations have cost us a lot of money and we donâ€™t want to be spending any more. Any suggestion that we want to be doing breakdowns from chariots is an insult as operators have taken their fleet of vehicles to new heights despite the often low return on the investment and we have done this because we wanted to and not because anybody has told us to.
If and when new European regulations are upon us we will need to address these, but as of the moment no one has told us exactly what they are and, hopefully, they will include all recovery vehicles of which there are too many running about like loose cannons.
I have suggested that this G Group should set out their manifesto, but I have not seen much that is going to make my business any better, and certainly not make me any money. I have seen mention of flashing red lights again and perhaps using bus lanes, but if we are not careful we might find we are going to have to go on a weekâ€™s course to use a bus lane and perhaps have compulsory flashing red lights, after we have already been told to take them off!
Maybe I am being a bit sceptical but recent history has led me to believe that I have every right to mistrust people. As regards a united industry, that is never going to be achieved because of the big difference in the way operators live and work and what is good for one in London is probably an unnecessary extravagance for someone on the Scottish Borders or even in the Norfolk Broads.
If we have one golden quality that seems to irritate a lot of people is that many of us are operating, in our own way, successful businesses. We are giving excellent customer service and providing work in the community and we do not like to be pushed and shoved about by people who are not contributing to this quality. It would help if more operators would voice an opinion but, like a lot of thoroughbreds, they are sturdy and docile (Apart from me!).
The views of Fred Henderson are not necessarily the views of Recovery World.