Thursday 24 February 2011

Pothole repairs receive injection of funds, Good Garage Scheme learns.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is to distribute a further £100 million to England’s local authorities to tackle potholes on our roads, exacerbated by late 2010’s sub-zero conditions. The DfT’s cutbacks earlier in the financial year have generated the additional funding.

Edmund King, AA president, told the BBC: “£100m extra is welcome and if it was just used for patching up potholes, you could probably fill in about 1.5 million potholes - and there are probably two million-odd out there. Now, that's good as a sticking-plaster solution but you also need a longer-term coherent strategy of structural road maintenance. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to bite the bullet and actually resurface a bit of road rather than fill in a pothole. If you don’t spend money it costs you more in the long term.”

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: “It's set at the maximum amount that we can afford to deliver to local authorities during a period of public spending constraint to manage their road maintenance. Now individual local authorities have to decide how to use that money, as between patching up - short-term patching up of really serious problems in the roads, potholes and so on - and the longer-term maintenance programme.”

He added that outside the core budgets already provided, a highways maintenance efficiency programme is being funded for the Government to work with local authorities aimed at “delivering road maintenance more effectively, more cheaply and more efficiently.”

Tuesday 22 February 2011

European hearing expected to result in increased premiums for female drivers, Good Garage Scheme hears.

Next month could see a harsh increase in insurance premiums for the youngest female drivers (aged between seventeen and twenty-two) as a consequence of a European Court of Justice hearing which is expected to outlaw gender discrimination.

Currently, the UK’s female motorists pay lower premiums because they are deemed to be a lower risk for insurers, based upon statistical evidence. Figures show young men are ten times more likely than women of the same age to be involved in a crash and twenty five times likely to commit a traffic offence in their first three years of motoring.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "The use of gender in calculating insurance risk has been a thorn in the EC's side for many years and indeed, the current UK use of gender in this way is illegal. However, my fear is that the European Court of Justice will no longer tolerate such exceptions and the UK and some other EC countries that use gender to calculate risk, will have to toe the European line.”

At present the average difference in premiums can be as much as £1,000 more for males, with men and women paying averages of £2,750 and £1,682 respectively. The move could reduce premiums slightly for males in addition to the anticipated increases for females.

However, more mature female motorists, while still being affected to some degree, are anticipated to feel a much lesser increase as insurance premiums difference reduce with age.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Good Garage Scheme member garage owner climbs Kilimanjaro for children’s charity.

Last week saw Jennifer Riach, owner of Good Garage Scheme member MECA Services South West complete an ascent of Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and the world’s highest free-standing mountain, for children’s charity Sparks.

The impetus to do the climb resulted from the plight of the young son of a mechanic at her garage who went through an unimaginable fight for life from his premature birth over a year ago. Jennifer’s personal connection to the family left an inner resolve in her to achieve a truly daunting challenge.

During the climb through rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and glaciers, Jennifer battled exhaustion, sleep deprivation, altitude sickness, dehydration yet her drive and determination saw her reach the summit at 19,340 feet (5,895 metres), alongside the whole team.

The ascent took over four days to complete and the total time on the mountain was nearly a week.

To contribute to Jennifer’s target of £4,200 please click here. To read all about her trek to the summit, you can read her blog by clicking here.

Jennifer Riach is the owner of MECA Services - Exeter's only lady owned & award winning garage offering repairs, servicing & MOTs for all makes of cars, light commercial vehicles, 4x4s & motorhomes. Jennifer took over MECA Services in 2007 and joined the Good Garage Scheme in the same year.


Tuesday 15 February 2011

Completing a Good Garage Scheme feedback card lands customer an unexpected bonus

A customer of Good Garage Scheme member, Empire Garages in Enfield, received an unexpected bonus as a result of completing a customer feedback form after their car was serviced.

Yvonne Donnelly scooped the winning entry after 25,193 motorists were entered into a Good Garage Scheme prize draw by their local garages after taking part in the Good Garage Scheme’s latest nationwide free prize draw competition. Her choice of prize was a Nintendo Wii.

Empire Garages have a five-star rating on the Good Garage Scheme website, based on over 2,000 feedbacks received from their customers since joining the scheme in 2007.

Customers of member garages and workshops are encouraged to fill in feedback forms to help maintain high standards. Customer feedbacks play a pivotal role in the operation of the Good Garage Scheme which highlights the areas of best practice and areas for improvement identified by motorists using member garages for work.

Nationally, the Good Garage Scheme receives around 12,000 customer feedbacks every month while member garages that fail to submit any feedbacks are investigated and potentially removed from the scheme.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Drink-driving forensic samples fears unfounded, the Good Garage Scheme hears.

The impending closure of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) and the affect this will have on testing for drink-driving could create fears that this can result in more people escaping prosecution for driving while over the limit.

However, measures have already been put in place to continue processing drink-driving suspects’ samples and to reassure the public. Senior officers have said there will be “no impact on the criminal justice process."

A joint statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) said: “There is capacity to undertake these services by other forensic suppliers under the NPIA’s national framework for the supply of forensic services to policing.

A transition plan was already in place for the transfer of the testing work undertaken by the Forensic Science Service. Swift arrangements will now be made to ensure that alternative suppliers provide the analysis for Road Traffic Act drink and drug cases. There are already other forensic suppliers who undertake this work.”

Not all cases are the same and it affects those where a breath test cannot be obtained from a suspect, an alternative method of testing is chosen or if equipment is defective.

Official figures released show the service, during 2009, conducted over 16,000 laboratory tests on blood and urine samples. Even with this staggering total, £2 million is being lost each month.

These financial losses are obviously not sustainable but this revised method of analysis will hopefully stem the huge losses being made and also save vast numbers of lives while helping improve the efficiency of forensic services and enabling this funding to be spent productively elsewhere.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Fight for fairer fuel prices applauded by Good Garage Scheme.

This morning saw Quentin Willson and a team of FairFuelUK campaigners at the Whitehall entrance to the Treasury to unfurl a banner as part of its battle against unfair fuel. A letter was also to be handed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

The twenty foot long banner displayed an image of a fuel tanker showing what proportion of the current costs of fuel is composed of fuel duty. 

Mr Osborne is being urged to scrap the duty hike planned for April and introduce some stability to the price of fuel.

The campaign has been backed by a wide variety of companies and tens of thousands of members of the public.

As a result of this, the Chancellor said in the House of Commons that there would potentially be announcements on the matter in the Budget, due next month.

Campaign organiser Peter Carroll said: "The whole nation has to get behind this campaign to help boost the economy, which is being hurt by high fuel prices. Scrapping the planned April fuel duty rise is a start, but we need a long-term solution."

To support the FairFuelUK campaign or for more information, please click here.

Friday 4 February 2011

Government announces proposals to change road network policy, Good Garage Scheme reads.

The Government’s transport minister, Norman Baker, has announced a consultation period to run until May 1st for changes to road network policy.

This will include councils being given greater powers over road classification in their areas, tackling problems such as issues with “sat nav” technology and the resultant increased congestion.

While sat navs can be a wonderful tool in assisting motorists with navigation, when they have errors the technology can also be in the news for the wrong reasons.

An inquest has this week heard of a fatal crash in September caused by wrong sat nav information concerning a no right turn. Other less serious yet still inconvenient examples have been well publicised.

Mr Baker added:  "We are also using this as an opportunity to invite new ideas of tackling some of the problems caused by sat navs, for example lorries being directed down unsuitable roads.” One such example occurred in 2009 with an articulated lorry becoming stuck for five days in the tiny Cotswold village of Syde after it became wedged in a ditch on a hairpin bend.

At present the Department for Transport (DfT) approves changes such as downgrading “A” roads to “B” roads but after the changes have been effected, they will only intervene when a council’s decision has met with widespread criticism.

The proposals would mean a better flow of traffic and reduced congestion to minor roads unsuitable for commercial vehicles. Hopefully then high profile sat nav errors can become a thing of the past.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Planned fuel duty rise under increasing pressure to be scrapped, Good Garage Scheme reads.

The Government is under increasing pressure to abolish fuel duty increases intended for April, in the wake of ever-increasing fuel prices in 2011. With 33 million motorists being impacted, it is clear something needs to be done.

When asked about the matter recently, Mr Osborne said: “If we are able to do something about it we will do it before April.”

It is unclear at present if the Government is intending to abolish the whole increase or just the fuel duty escalator above the rate of inflation.

Edmund King, president of the AA, highlighted motorists concerns saying: “A 3.4% drop in petrol sales during the last quarter, at a time when prices were actually falling, indicates that many drivers have reached breaking point.”

A fuel stabiliser has been seen as a way of reducing the strain on motorists by reducing taxes if oil prices increased and increasing taxes if they fell. The spokesman said the Treasury was looking at the issue of the stabiliser, but added: "Any answers on this are going to be in the Budget."

The Fair Fuel UK campaign, set up last month, is growing in popularity with tens of thousands of signatures received for their petition. For more information on the campaign, please click here.

The aim is to force the Government’s hand on the planned fuel duty rise and with so many signatories already and just under 50 days until the budget; the Government needs to listen to overwhelming public opinion.