Comment: Why new law for foreign HGV drivers is welcome

Iain Stewart
Iain Stewart

This month, in a slight change to my regular programme of school visits, I went to the Leadership and Training Centre (LTC) at Shenley Brook End School.

In March last year Shenley Brook End achieved National Teaching School status, meaning they take a lead role in the training and professional development of teachers, support staff and headteachers from across the region.

I was very impressed with the high quality professional training environment the LTC provides within the school. It is great that other schools can benefit from the high standards of teaching and training that Shenley Brook End has achieved.

In a separate visit to the school, I answered questions from 6th Form pupils on a wide spectrum of issues which were of concern to them, including the media and crime and punishment.

As many readers will know, I take a keen interest in transport issues through my role on the Transport Select Committee. One transport concern that many residents and business have raised with me has been the apparent unfairness of British HGVs and lorries paying to use European roads when foreign HGVs do not have to pay to use our roads. I am therefore pleased that Government has taken action to address this. Last week the HGV Road User Levy Bill received Royal Assent and was passed into law.

The new law will mean foreign HGVs will now have pay a levy to use our roads. 

This is an important law as every year there are around one and a half million trips to the UK by foreign registered lorries, but none of them pay to use our roads, leaving UK businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill. The new act will help the UK logistics industry remain competitive by making sure operators from abroad are paying towards the cost of building and maintaining the UK’s roads, as well as creating a level playing field for domestic operators.

I also visited Cranfield Airport to see first-hand the significant investment being made to attract business aviation to our region. During the 2012 Olympic Games Cranfield was one of the UK’s designated airports and saw an increase in small business aircraft during The Games.

The airport already supports the economy by welcoming air passengers heading for the motorsport hub at Silverstone. With the current demand for airspace and airport development in the South East of England, an already established site such as Cranfield will help contribute to local and international business going forward and I hope it will bring many benefits to the region in the coming years.

I was recently fortunate enough to meet with Paralympic champion and double gold medallist, Hannah Cockroft MBE, to support the manifesto launched by the charity Whizz-Kidz.

Whizz-Kidz provides disabled children with the essential wheelchairs and mobility equipment they need to lead active childhoods. I was surprised to hear that Hannah actually received her first sports wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz in 2007 – what a testament to the work they are doing.

So, I am delighted to back Whizz-Kidz’s Generation Inspired manifesto. More information is available about their work on their website,
Closely linked to the work of charities like Whizz-Kidz is the ongoing Transport Committee inquiry into disabled people’s access to transport. If any residents would like to share their experiences in this area I would be very happy to hear from them.

This month I am also continuing my programme of street surgeries, and I will be in Stony Stratford and Woburn Sands town centres on the morning of Saturday, March 16. I look forward to seeing as many constituents as possible there.

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Postal address: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA