POLITICS FEEDBACK: LDV needs Russian aid
13 March 2009
In BusinessCar's new monthly analysis of political issues, Tom Webster says it's right that foreign-owned firms aren't bailed-out by the Government
LDV refused funding
Van maker LDV has reportedly been refused Government help after it asked for loans of up to £30m to save it from liquidation. Owned by Russian firm Gaz, it claims it needs the cash to protect thousands of jobs. However, LDV has allegedly been told the UK taxpayer cannot be expected to pay for its losses. A management consortium has since announced it is making a bid to buy the company.
While it would be awful to see the demise of a well-known brand, it is refreshing the Government has not stepped in. As with Jaguar Land Rover, there is a wealthy foreign benefactor at the top of the firm who should be primarily responsible for its financial wellbeing.
Plenty being emitted
The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders and Vehicle Certification Agency have been working with the Department for Transport towards the publication of CO2 and mpg data for all commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes. The first stage is a leaflet aiming to educate owners and drivers of the link between emissions and fuel usage. A couple of months from now, phase two will see the VCA publish van CO2 data on all vehicles.
We can see why manufacturers are worried. Although some data is better than nothing, vans are more complex than cars in terms of shape, size and usage, and once this data is in the public domain two things are likely to happen. Firstly, less well-informed owners will wonder why they're not matching the official figures (achieved in a laboratory test), and secondly the Government will surely cream off more cash by using the figures as a base for tax. Both the SMMT and DfT have denied the latter will happen for a while yet, but van makers aren't convinced, and neither are we.
Lib Dems damned - part 1
The Liberal Democrats have come under fire over from the Freight Transport Association, which has slammed the party's proposal to cut nearly £1bn from the £1.2bn earmarked by the Highways Agency for road maintenance schemes. The FTA said the plans "grossly underestimate the importance of Britain's roads in terms of road safety, our economy and our supply chain efficiency".
The Lib Dems claim the cash could be better spent on childcare and education, a statement no one can really disagree with. However, road surfaces have taken a hammering during the winter months, and they will only become more dangerous and lethal if they are left untended.
Lib Dems damned - part 2
Tory MP James Cleverly has called the Lib Dem attitude toward small businesses "naive" after the party's London Assembly member Mike Tuffrey said the third stage of the capital's Low Emissions Zone should have been implemented, despite Mayor Boris Johnson announcing it would be scrapped. The third stage would have seen vans up to 3.5 tonnes and minibuses up to five tonnes that don't meet Euro3 emissions regulations charged £100 a day to enter the capital.
The fate of small business is one of the most compelling reasons why why the LEZ should not have gone into its third phase. The £100 daily charge, or £2000 cost of the kit required to avoid it, would be crippling to small firms already struggling. It is good to see common sense prevailing, even if we suspect it won't be forever.