A businessman has called on people to attend public consultation meetings taking place this week and oppose plans for congestion charging in the Midlands. Chris Kelly, chairman of Midlands Scania dealer Keltruck, said the meetings – the first of which took place in Brierley Hill yesterday – have been covered up by the authorities.

Boss leads fight against congestion charge
Nov 15 2006

A businessman has called on people to attend public consultation meetings taking place this week and oppose plans for congestion charging in the Midlands.

Chris Kelly, chairman of Midlands Scania dealer Keltruck, said the meetings – the first of which took place in Brierley Hill yesterday – have been covered up by the authorities.

The meetings will discuss the future transport strategy of the region, under the title “Gridlock or Growth”.

Issues will include the regeneration of New Street Station, park and ride schemes as well as the possibility of road pricing.

Mr Kelly said: “Congestion charging will have such a huge impact on business.

“It will influence people when they are making investment decisions about where to locate their companies for example.

“Instead of coming to the West Midlands they could end up going to the East Midlands.

“People will think why should we come here when our employees are being taxed to come to work?

“They will also face more charges themselves.

“This could have dire consequences for firms in the Midlands. This is a very serious issue.”

But Mr Kelly said he thought the meetings had not been properly advertised.

“The seven local authorities who are carrying out this out haven’t told anyone.

“I could be cynical and think they don’t want people to attend who might oppose their plan.

“Is this a cock up or a conspiracy?

“I would like to see as many operators and businesses as possible at these meetings, as they offer a chance for them to speak.”

He says people should speak now rather than suffer in silence in the future.

“There has been little or no publicity for these official ‘consultations’ and incredibly the Local Transport Plan website makes no mention of them either, so I’ve e-mailed nearly 1,000 operators and businesses, telling them about the meetings and urging them to go and have their say.”

A spokesman for the West Midlands councils said: “These meetings have not been covered up at all.

“This event is being held in all of the council areas, and in addition there is an opportunity to have your say on the website.

“People can also put their views in writing. This is part of increasing the potential for debate, and we would urge people to take that opportunity while they can.”

Click here to read more or visit keltruck.com/roads.

Biglorryblog tells truck operators ‘Make a nuisance of yourself!’ Chris Kelly has the right idea.

I take my hat off to Chris Kelly, the outspoken chairman of Scania dealership group Keltruck. Chris has made a name for himself as a fearless battler against red-tape, officialdom and challenging the status quo – to the point of becoming a thorn in the side of many local and national bodies and authorities (including the Police and VOSA not least when it’s come to truck theft and the need for dealers to have an O-Licence in order to take a trailer to a test station.) We don’t always see eye-to-eye on things (for example he’s all for private HGV testing and Biglorryblog is against it) but he’s 100% on the money with his recent call for operators to turn up at the public consultation meetings covering the introduction of congestion charging in the West Midlands – and make themselves heard.

Speaking to www.keltruck.com he says: “I’d like to see as many operators as possible attending these meetings as it’s their chance to have their say or, if they don’t, forever hold their peace!” He’s right of course. Her Majesty’s Loyal Hauliers are famous for grumbling about things – then claiming they’re too busy to do anything about it…wrong! The way to make things happen is to “challenge, challenge and challenge”. And if that means becoming a nuisance of yourself then so be it.

In this country ‘Officialdom’ heavily relies on the apathy of the Great British Population (and that includes truck operators) on the grounds that few people, if ever, can be bothered to complain. And it’s not unusual for those same officials and civil servants to be somewhat tardy when it comes to out giving information as to what they’re getting up to. Indeed, with regard to congestion charging Kelly claims, “There has been little or nothing by way of publicity for these official ‘consultations’ hence I am taking this opportunity to spread the word to operators and business people in the region. Incredibly the Local Transport Plan website, www.westmidlandsltp.gov.uk, makes no mention of these meetings so I’ve e-mailed nearly one thousand operators and businesses alerting them to them and urging them to attend.” To which Biglorryblog says this is the perfect example of democracy – use it or lose it.

Likewise people forget that local officials are accountable so even if you think your voice wouldn’t be heard at a national level you’d be surprised the power local pressure groups can assert – not least on MPs.

It also begs the questions was this something the Freight Transport and Road Haulage Associations had a) already spotted and b) drawn to local operators’ attention as Kelly has done?

Andrew Bentley, MInst SMM
General Manager – Marketing & Business Development
+44 (0)121 524 1808
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