Rob calls for better industry cooperation after Vauxhall fire Select Committee inquiry

Stoke-on-Trent South Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Rob Flello, says insurers, manufacturers and regulators must do more to share vital information about dangerous car defects.  Rob was a member of the influential Commons Transport Select Committee before the election was called.  The committee has just released its report into 120 fires in Vauxhall Zafiras caused by faulty design and inadequate repair.  He says many of the fires could have been prevented if information was shared more quickly and effectively.

Rob says, “There’s currently no method for collating and sharing information where the same problem occurs over and over again with a particular model.  The insurance industry treats them as one-off cases where they could be noticing more quickly if a pattern emerges.  Vauxhall recalled vehicles once it knew there was a problem but made inadequate improvements so some of those types of car still caught fire, which, as the report says, was ‘gambling with people’s lives.’  If a database of fires was collated by the insurers and shared with the DVSA [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency], the fire services, the wider motor trade and the Department for Transport, everyone would have realised much more quickly that the problem hadn’t been properly dealt with.”  

Rob welcomes collapse of cancer care privatisation

Rob has welcomed the news that the proposed privatisation of cancer care in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area will not now go ahead.

The CCGs who were leading on this project have decided that the only bidder for the contract was not able to convince them of its viability, and the contract will now not be awarded.

“I’m delighted that this will not now go ahead”, said Rob, “but it is with a somewhat heavy heart.  The CCGs have only abandoned these plans because it has finally been proven that they were never going to work, and we have to be careful that they do not just emerge again with a few changes.

Top honour bestowed on Rob

Rob has been made a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the highest honour the organisation can bestow.  

CILT describes itself as “the membership organisation for professionals involved in the movement of goods and people and their associated supply chains.  Members of the Institute are involved in the management and design of infrastructure, systems, processes and information flows and in the creation, management and development of effective organisations. The work of our members impacts directly on people, society and the environment, on business profitability and economic growth.”

CILT was established in 1919 and now has more than 33,000 members in influential positions in the sector around the world.

The end of the road or a road to prosperity?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England came out with a report last week entitled The End of the Road which essentially suggested the countryside is about to be concreted over thanks to the government’s roads building programme, and that these new roads will do nothing to ease congestion, but actually make it worse.

Rob Flello, MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, Transport Select Committee Member and chair and founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport says not only should the CPRE not fear road building but that the right roads, in the right places with the right developments to go with them will protect our green and pleasant land.

“There’s a theory,” Rob says, “called induced demand, which essentially says that the more space there is for cars the more people will drive, taking more journeys and causing more congestion and pollution.  There have been a lot of academic studies which support this view, but many of them miss some of the obvious points, that where you put your road and where it goes through and ends up are hugely significant factors in resulting traffic levels.”

Rob points to a 2001 study by Robert Cervero, Professor of City and Regional Planning at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development of the University of California.  Snappily entitled, Road Expansion, Urban Growth, and Induced Travel: A Path Analysis, Professor Cervero’s work challenges the received wisdom maintained by the CPRE that new roads make more traffic and are therefore generally, “a bad thing.”

Vehicle Excise Duty – Let’s call it Car Tax again and have done

What’s the difference between a tax and a duty, and does it really matter?

Interestingly - or not, depending on your point of view - duty is traditionally a levy on goods while tax is applied to individuals.  Both hurt just the same.

Vehicle Excise Duty (which is neither one nor the other really because it’s an individual’s payment relating to a good – their car – they already own) is being reformed.  It comprises something approaching forty different charging bands for everything from HGVs to Tricycles dependent on age and engine size or emission level.  Frankly it’s bonkers, and just for good measure, from April Fools’ Day (I kid you not) the government is adding another seventeen new bands for newly registered vehicles.

A bit of history would be illuminating here.  In 1888, the then Chancellor, George, 1st Viscount Goschen introduced two new vehicle duties the locomotive duty and the trade cart duty.  Twenty-one years later, David Lloyd George announced that public roads would from now on be self-financing (that went well) and hypothecated vehicle taxes for that purpose.  It never happened; Churchill, in particular, was notorious for snaffling road taxes for general spending and the pretence was finally given up in the 1950s. 

National newspaper apologises for misrepresenting Rob

The Independent newspaper has corrected an article referring to comments made about cycle lanes by Rob. 

He asked the question whether the dedication of road space to bikes and resulting reduction in tarmac available to motorised vehicles in our cities might be adding to congestion and called for research into the subject.  The Independent’s Deputy Managing Editor, Will Gore, admitted its website had overstated Rob’s point-of-view and said he was sorry “that our reporting caused concern.” 

Rob Flello calls on Government to support local hospital in financial special measures

Following today’s announcement that University Hospital of North Midlands Trust has been placed into financial special measures, Rob is calling on the Government to ensure patient care is maintained.

Reacting to the news Rob said “It is unacceptable that less than six months after the Secretary of State for Health said he had serious concerns about the Royal Stoke hospital we are seeing the Trust go into financial special measures. This is despite the Government being aware the hospital has been at breaking point due to financial pressures for some time.

Protecting ports vital to national interest post-Brexit

Stoke-on-Trent South MP and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport, Rob Flello, says the government must keep the ports moving after Brexit or risk disaster.

He was speaking after the APPG had heard a presentation from Nicholas Scott-Gray, Chief Executive of Montrose Port Authority (MPA).  Mr Scott-Gray outlined the challenges facing his port and many others like it across the UK, saying that wrongly handled, Brexit could have dire consequences for the industry.  He said, “Tariffs, quotas and new customs clearance regulations could cause significant difficulties.”  He explained that the time taken to move goods through the port was crucial to its competitiveness.  “If we slow down customers will go somewhere else,” he said.

Budget? What Budget?

“There were rumours of a budget today although, frankly, for the transport sector, it’s hard to know if it actually happened.”
 
That’s the view of Stoke-on-Trent South MP and Transport Select Committee member, Rob Flello, who says today’s announcements were a missed opportunity by the Chancellor.
 
“In the build-up to Brexit the transport and haulage industries, upon which this country so heavily relies, needed something solid to hold on to, to give them a chance to get onto a competitive footing with our European neighbours.  Instead, they got a few half-hearted scraps which will achieve very little.  Certainly, freezing the HGV Road User Levy and Vehicle Excise Duty for hauliers is of some help as is freezing Fuel Duty, but when you bear in mind that about three-quarters of the cost at the pumps is now tax it’s very small beer.  Before the Budget Britain had the highest duty levels for fuel in the EU, and after it, it still does.”

Going back for the future to cut congestion

Rob is backing a scheme to help reduce pollution and congestion by putting high value, time-sensitive freight onto passenger trains.

The MP, who is also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Freight Transport Group, says, “In these days where autonomous trains and retinal scans to track passengers are seen as glimpses of the future of rail it’s important to remember that old ideas are not necessarily bad ideas.  I’ve recently been talking to people from a company called InterCity RailFreight who are taking a concept which would be completely familiar to the Victorian rail passenger and turning it into a serious prospect for moving freight by rail and cutting road congestion.”

InterCity RailFreight began trials of their scheme in 2010 and have now become partners with two rail franchisees, GWR and East Midlands Trains, moving a wider range of commodities from fresh seafood to clinical trials samples by rail on passenger services.  These two types of cargo might seem rather disparate, but they have one thing in common, which is an urgent need to find the quickest route to their destinations.  The medical samples are moving between Nottingham and Leicester as part of clinical drug trials, and as such need to reach the London labs where they are examined as speedily as humanly possible.  The fish is coming fresh off the boat in Cornwall to be distributed to various click-and-collect points in London, ready to be cooked the same day it was hauled from the waves.  In each case, the time and cost savings are significant when compared to road transport.  The process is cheaper than using a diesel delivery van, up to 300% faster and of course, causes no more pollution than the passenger train on which they goods are carried would have already produced because, as the company slogan goes, “The train is going there anyway.”

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