The Minister of State for Transport has recognised the importance of the BVRLA and told a room of representatives from the rental and leasing industry that the Government will work with the sector to tackle the big issues.
Speaking at the BVRLA’s annual Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP showed a keen understanding and acceptance of the BVRLA’s work.
Mr Hayes recognised the importance of the BVRLA: “I know this organisation is important. It is important because you purchase an immense number of new vehicles – well over half of all new vehicles sold and registered each year. You show leadership and purchase low emission vehicles for your combined fleet of more than 4.5million vehicles and have a significant knock-on effect, stimulating and sparking innovation and making a real difference in helping cut emissions.
BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said: “It is fantastic to hear a senior figure at the Department for Transport understand what our sector does and what we do for our members. We look forward to working with Mr Hayes again, as together we can reduce congestion, emissions and accidents by promoting the take-up of new, safe and sustainable transport.”
At the event, Mr Keaney had welcomed the Minister and re-iterated the association’s calls for the Government to step up and deliver a framework for a nationwide network of low emission zones to improve air quality. Responding to the BVRLA’s concerns, Mr Hayes replied: “In the work we do, in particular cities on emissions in their own zones, we need to take into account the particular needs of that locality, but not at the expense of a policy that is nationally consistent. It is an important balance to strike, and I’m mindful of what you said about it today. I will go back as a result of those further overtures that you have made to check again whether we’ve got that right.”
Mr Keaney also highlighted that BVRLA members’ number one concern in 2017 was getting to grips with Brexit. Addressing members in the room, Mr Hayes said: “I think there are significant opportunities and what we have to do is define what those opportunities are and work with businesses like yours and organisations like the BVRLA to take advantage of those.”
Going further, Mr Hayes added “It is vitally important, with the regulatory environment, that we’re clear about the direction of travel, we’re clear about maintaining the certainties necessary for you to make your medium and long-term business plans. I understand the point you made and I will feed that back into my department and certainty take full account of it.”
One of the BVRLA’s ongoing calls has been for the Government to support the fleet industry’s uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, and attendees were pleased to hear the minister say “I understand that it’s important for Government to know when to step forward to support you and help you and provide a framework in which you can operate. But equally importantly is for the government to know when to step back. It is right that the Government should support you in continuing to build the growth, create the jobs, do the work and make they money that you make.”
Proving once again that he is the Champion of the Motorist, Mr Hayes added: “I am strongly in favour of the opportunity provided by people’s ownership of vehicles and acquisition of vehicles. I believe in road users. I believe in people having the ability to drive a van, hire a car, use a vehicle for their own personal economic use or for their own recreational use. Let us make a bold and proud case for the joy of driving and not be slightly shame faced about it.
Concluding his speech, Mr Hayes once again extolled the virtues of the BVRLA. “I think it is incredibly helpful that this organisation speaks so coherently and forcefully for the people it represents, and I value what you do and who you are.”
Mr Hayes was joined by fellow Transport Minister Andrew Jones, more than 75 BVRLA members from 50 companies and numerous other MPs at the event, which took place on Wednesday evening in the Churchill room at the House of Commons.
Early next year, the BVRLA will place detailed policy papers with Government Ministers, senior departmental advisors and other key stakeholders. These will form the basis for further meetings between the BVRLA and Government officials throughout 2017.