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LETTERS to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Fuel station decline won’t mean problems

THE total number of fuel stations in the UK may have declined again – ‘Fill-up closures add to fuel woes’ (Fleet News, August 17) – but it is wrong to suggest that this will inevitably exacerbate a problem for fleet drivers.

They actually don’t need to use more fuel and work time searching for the correct brand.

The solution for the typical fleet of 100 drivers who, according to Arval, use up to 350 hours of work time every year on forecourt searches, is simple. They should change their fuel card.

Steve Clarke
Customer services & marketing manager, Abbey Fuelcards

Why sat-nav security marking is essential

IN reference to the article ‘High-tech way to stop thieves’ (Fleet News, August 24), I have had a similar experience.

I popped into a retail park, and within five minutes my ears tuned in to announcement ‘would the owner of vehicle registration XXXX please speak to a member of staff’.

Security staff said two males on a motorbike had cruised the car park, the passenger got off, smashed the window, grabbed the satellite navigation unit and off they went. No description or registration of the motorcycle.

I reported the crime to the police and within an hour the local station had contacted me, said that the retail park had CCTV and they would try and obtain the registration of the motorcycle concerned.

Within another hour I had a call from another police station in west London to say that two people had been arrested and were in possession of my unit.

This event could have been avoided had I remembered to take the system with me. The only reason I have had it repatriated to me is the security marking and register by Retainagroup. It is the only thing that shows anyone that it is my property.

The important lessons were: take care of your own property, which is your own responsibility. If you fail and something is stolen, act urgently – don’t delay getting police involved.

And get it marked: it is so re-assuring to know that the security marking can play a key role in turning a crime experience into a customer service experience.

David Ryan By email

No smoking ban – who’s responsible?

WE read with interest the article ‘Prepare now for smoking ban, fleet managers urged’ on FNN.co.uk. The smoking ban in vans has been live in Scotland since March 23. Initially there was confusion, with lots of companies chasing around at the last minute to get stickers in place, but since then it has gone quiet.

In Scotland one of our customers has informed us of an instance where one of its drivers was stopped for smoking in his van. He was in a non-Lex daily rental vehicle which didn’t have a No Smoking sticker in it.

This raises the question as to who is responsible for the display of the sticker. We are sure it is the driver’s company, but in a situation like this when the driver is in a rental vehicle, the whole process becomes a logistical nightmare.

Lex continues to supply all new vans in the UK (we have a fleet of around 40,000), not just those in Scotland, with a sticker which reinforces a No Smoking ban in the vehicle, even though we are not obliged to do so by law. Fleets can make their own decisions on whether they are fitted to their vehicles, while stickers can also be ordered by fleets who want to put them in all their vans, both new and used.

We would recommend that fleets get a sticker in place in all vehicles as soon as possible to meet their duty of care obligations, even if company cars don’t get included in the smoking guidelines.

Barclay McFarlane
Operations manager, Lex

Paternity leave? We just can’t afford it

I HAVE just read the article ‘Millions fail to take holidays’ (Fleet News, August 17).

The reason more than half of new fathers fail to take their paternity leave is quite simple – they cannot afford to. Becoming a parent is a costly time and with one wage earner already on a reduced salary through maternity pay, the average family cannot afford to have its income reduced even further at a time when, if anything, more needs to be brought in.

Until paternity pay more closely mirrors an employee’s normal earnings, it is unlikely that the take-up will increase.

Brian Shuard
SYR Ltd

Why the DVLA rise?

I’M not often given to reading income and expenditure accounts for relaxation and I certainly was not entertained by the latest accounts from the DVLA.

I find it hard to conceive why, when our tax money is increasingly collected by automated systems, staff costs should have rocketed by nearly 20%. At a time when the £32 million noted in the accounts that was spent on additional outsourcing should surely have reduced them.

Remember, that this tax collection agency is collecting your money and the least it should do is to do that efficiently.

On a slightly different but related tack I also find it pretty hard to swallow that the Department for Transport charges the DVLA a fee of 3.5% of the capital it uses. Why? Where on earth does the Government think this additional tax is going to come from? Not from operating efficiencies in the DVLA if their apparent performance is anything to go by.

The only other source is the taxpayer – and that means you and me.

And if after all these years of collecting tax via the seemingly simple way of selling licence discs, how much more complicated and expensive will it be to replace this with a road pricing system?

Robin Mackonochie
British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association

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