Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Despatch Association (IT 18)



  The Despatch Association (DA) welcomes the publication of the Government's plans for an integrated transport policy. The UK Government is now committed to developing an integrated and sustainable transport policy based on reducing car use and encouraging alternative forms of transport. The DA supports the encouragement of commuter alternatives to the car such as public transport, motorcycling, cycling and walking.

  The DA, however, has some concern about how certain measures that are proposed in the White Paper will affect the same-day courier industry. The courier industry makes a key contribution to business efficiency through urban and inter-urban same-day deliveries of urgent small to medium sized packages. This work is undertaken in the main by light vans and motorcycles.

  The same-day courier industry is made up of over 3,000 UK companies, 500 of which are within the M25 belt. It makes in excess of 750,000 deliveries per day and turns over £750 million per annum. There are estimated to be 10,000 courier motorcycles operating within the M25 belt.

  Although the White Paper goes into some detail about road freight, there has been no consideration of the needs of the courier industry. The DA feels that the following issues deserve attention.


  The White Paper goes into some depth about charging users on motorways and trunk roads. Given that the carriage of goods by motorcycles is far more sustainable than with other modes, we would not expect this to be discouraged by road pricing being applied to motorcycle couriers. The use of motorcycles generally should be encouraged by reduced levels of VED for small to medium sized machines. Similarly light vans used for courier work often travel in and out of cities several times a day. Charging these vehicles to use the roads would add costs to business and cause long-term problems for both the courier industry and UK business efficiency.

  Road pricing should be targeted at the types of private car journeys where suitable alternatives exist, such as commuting by car where public transport, cycling or motorcycling provide an alternative. Road pricing should not be applied to users of vehicles engaged in courier duties.


  The delivery and collection of goods is a vital component of business and the communications infrastructure of this country. If this is discouraged by urban transport policy, then companies may consider moving to out of town developments in an effort to reduce costs. This is obviously undesirable from an environmental point of view. Policy initiatives should not serve to discourage businesses from urban areas.

  For example, the DA feels that the London Red Route traffic regulations are in need of attention. Exemptions have been allowed for the loading and unloading of goods in designated loading bays. However, these exemptions do not include the delivery and collection of small packages by motorcycle or light van, unlike the exemptions for non red routes. This anomaly causes misunderstanding and brings the law into disrepute. Similarly, the decriminalisation of parking enforcement in London generally has led to additional costs to the courier industry, mainly due to increased levels of inappropriate enforcement. The DA seeks a review of current parking enforcement arrangements for vehicles engaged in courier duties.

  The DA looks to transport policymakers to recognise the needs of the same-day courier industry and calls for existing loading and unloading exemptions on red routes to be applied to the delivery and collection of goods by motorcycle and light van. In addition to this, the DA believes that facilities for courier motorcyclists such as the creation of specific delivery bays for motorcycles in the City of London and other inner city business areas should be considered.


  The White Paper's recognition of motorcycling as an alternative mode is particularly welcome. The DA also welcomes the announcement of an advisory group for motorcycles. In addition to the consideration of motorcycle safety and environmental contribution, the DA also seeks the consideration of motorcycles as part of a sustainable distribution network.

September 1998

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