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Highways England has signed two further unifying agreements with the recovery industry, with the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) and independent recovery industry work providers Green Flag, Allianz Partners, LV=Britannia Rescue, GEM Motoring Assist and Call Assist. These agreements were signed by Highways England’s Acting CEO Nick Harris at this year’s PROFCON 21 event at Brooklands Motor Museum in Surrey on 29th July 2021. They see Highways England making a commitment to both NTDA and the Independent Recovery Industry Work Providers to work together to improve communications and achieve best practice across the industry, whilst encouraging vehicle recovery operators (VRO’s) and commercial tyre technicians to always work safely on the network.
The new agreements, which were initiated by the Professional Recovery Operators Federation, follow a ground-breaking industry first last March 2020, which saw Highways England sign an initial agreement to unite with strategic stakeholders within the independent recovery industry. Nick Harris, acting Chief Executive, Highways England says: "In March 2020, Highways England signed a strategic partnership agreement to unite with the independent recovery industry. Since signing the agreement, we have taken positive steps to update recovery protocols on motorways and to improve our day-to-day operational communications between vehicle recovery operators and Highways England. I am pleased to be signing two additional strategic partnership agreements with the independent recovery work providers and the NTDA. These agreements, which have been made possible by the help and support of PROF, further demonstrates Highways England’s commitment to work more closely with the recovery industry".
With a range of independent bodies operating within the industry and Highways England responsible for the network they operate on, it became clear that further operational and strategic guidance would benefit all parties, which is how the initial agreement was born. Since signing the original agreement just over a year ago, great progress has been made in working more closely with the recovery industry.
This work includes:
The formation of a new Highways England Recovery Industry Executive Committee chaired by Nick Harris
The creation of seven new operations led regional recovery groups, to improve day-to-day operational communication between VROs and Highways England.
Producing a new joint working protocol guidance document covering the recovery of large vehicles on the network
Launching a new direct ‘Recovery In’ phone numbers to enable improved two-way communication between VROs and Highways England traffic officers.
Creating four new recovery focussed signs to help support the safety of VROs working on our network and provide motorists with information and awareness of a VROs presence and recovery activity.
Richard Goddard, President of the Professional Recovery operators Federation (PROF) said: "I am very proud that PROF has played a pivotal role in initiating these independent strategic partnership agreements with Highways England. Highways England has been proactive in uniting industry stakeholders, vehicle recovery operators and independent industry work providers. I am delighted that we are moving forward collectively to meet the challenges ahead and look forward to working with our strategic partners to improve safety, standards and public awareness on the strategic road network".
Damon Jowett, Head of Service Delivery, Green Flag said: "We’re thrilled to be signing a strategic partnership agreement with Highways England to help achieve best practice across the industry and ensure drivers receive the best possible recovery service on England’s roads".
Stefan Hay, Chief Executive of the NTDA said: "We are delighted to be entering into this new strategic working relationship with Highways England which is extremely important, and already proving to be highly productive, for the Association. The level of access the NTDA and its members now have at both operational and executive level within Highways England is unprecedented and will, undoubtedly, prove to be extremely valuable in ensuring safer roadside working for those REACT trained commercial tyre technicians deployed across the strategic road network".
Neil Worth, Chief Executive of GEM Motoring Assist said: As an organisation we have spent the past 90 years working to achieve safer roads for everyone, be they our members, recovery operators or the wider community. Highways England’s input into our Blue Light Aware resource has been invaluable and this agreement will allow us to strengthen and develop our partnership work for the benefit of GEM members and all road users".
Ben Johnson, Director of Networks at Call Assist said: "Call Assist is passionate about working with Highways England and like-minded work providers, as we all share best practices to ensure we continue providing a first-class assistance service".
Highways England recognises recovery operators as an essential service and the importance in the role they play helping to clear incidents and keep traffic moving. The principal purpose of the agreements is to guide the working partnerships in line with national agreements and guidance from within the vehicle recovery industry. The agreements have given the opportunity for all involved to identify areas of joint working and respective areas of interest. It sets out a commitment to work together towards issue resolution and closer partner working in the future. For those who do break down on a section of England’s A roads or motorways it will mean they can expect to receive a more consistent recovery service, with improved communications between Highways England traffic officers and recovery operators.
Information for VROs about working safely on motorways, along with downloadable guidance materials, are available on the Highways England recovery operator web page.
Richard Goddard update:
Twoyears ago I officially launched the PROFESSIONAL RECOVERY OPERATORS FEDERATION. My objectives were well known, and to be frank PROF has and is surpassing my expectations! However one of my main objectives has always been to form a national forum of VROs to represent PROF across the UK. Whilst creating the strategic partnership with Highways England, Highways England were forming a National Executive committee and 7 regional committees to discuss and highlight the different issues presented to both parties the most relevant being.
National minimum industry standard
Improved Safety on the SRN
Quicker and concise communication, between. Highways England, work providers, and VROs.
Highways England , has now created a regional map, with 7 regions, that will meet, communicate and identify any issues. A major plus will be that, Highways England will inform regional representatives in advance of any roll outs, major road works or changes in operations on the SRN. This always was a major issue for me and I am delighted with the progress we have made there.
Now then, even the most Robust Dictator cannot dictate matters in regional areas I have no knowledge of, nor have I any right to either! So I have now constructed the final piece of the PROF jigsaw. The Professional Recovery Operators Forum. A national forum which will consist of 7 carefully selected and invited VROs to represent each of the regions which Highways England have constructed themselves. Through research and reputation I believe I have selected and invited 7 of the finest operators in the UK to represent not just PROF, but it’s own particular region and any independent VROs that may have issues in their own areas. PROF. is not a commercial venture and we do not charge membership fees, or have a commercial agenda! So any reasonable request by any independent VROs will be considered and represented by the regional PROF representative.
However I am not stupid either!! Many independent VROs have a view and operate like many of us, under very difficult circumstances, but don’t have a platform or an opportunity to highlight relevant issues because , they are not part of a trade association! Well you have a voice now! As long as it’s reasonable point and does not have any political or personal issues. You can voice them your selves to your forum member. I do want the independent industry to have a voice that is heard in the right places, that will help us to build our ever evolving relationship with Highways England who are giving us this opportunity to be heard and are working with us at every level! These issues will be discussed at regional levels, and brought to the Highways England National Executive committee when we meet and is chaired by acting C E O Nick Harris. These issues of importance will not be vetoed, or interfered with by me and as I don’t have a council, not by a national council either. As things evolve so will the Forum, but with COVID still very much an issue, we will move at the same pace as lock down allows!
The official PROFESSIONAL RECOVERY OPERATORS FORUM
REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES WILL BE AS FOLLOWS.
Bill Calvert - CF Engineering.
Ray. Colemans - Lantern Group.
David Goldburn - Hough Green.
Sean Manchett - Manchetts Garage .
Mac Hobbs - Hobbs Recovery.
Mark Crawley - Road Runners.
John Cox - Highfield Garage.
I don’t personally know all of these Forum members, they have been invited based on their Location, the quality of their Operation and their reputation as VROs. Their experience and attitude to contributing to the forum will hopefully bring a new energy, and possibly a different perspective to my personal direction, which will be very healthy for PROF and the other bodies we will eventually be dealing with. PROF is privileged to have them on board. They will certainly give educated fusion and input to parts of the country sometimes forgotten about, yet are vital to the independent Recovery network.
Below is the Highways England official map, which has been split into 7 regions, all of which overlap and some cover large areas of the SRN. The overlaps are not boundaries and the Forum members will be encouraged to work together attend meetings together, where ever they feel they can contribute effectively. Once again that will be decide by them independently and not by me! So the PROF jigsaw is now complete! Important news of new and important strategic partnerships will follow at the appropriate time. I am excited at this new dimension that has finally been added to the Federation it’s been a while in the pipeline bit hopefully it’s been done properly with the right people for the right reasons!
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