April - May Mag Issue 25 Paperturn - Page 8

Earlier this week a video from
2010 was circulating on social
media. I watched it, and before
long, I started getting right into
it, there I was, in the middle of
my room, hopping up and down
and shouting at the screen, like
Joe Wicks. The pro-ducers of
this video were years ahead of
the curve, they created a new
genre - “the recovery work out”,
but this was no keep fit video
and I wasn’t working out, I was
hopping up and down in anger
and shouting at the screen “I
told you so”.
If you need to lose some
weight and you like getting
angry then I recommend you
watch it here https://youtu.be/
One of the points I want to
focus on from the video was the
police’s strategy, at that time, to
reduce their recovery network
to a select few from over 500
opera-tors (in the south east
alone). Yes, this is correct, 500
operators down to a few. This
project looked similar to Green
Flag’s failed attempt a few years
later to monopo-lise the network
with super agents, doesn’t it.
For operators who were
successfully awarded the new
police contract, in 2010, it was
a double whammy. Recovery
operators being interviewed
argued that they had to invest in
more specialist kit whilst, over
time, earning less money. (Ring
any bells?). Since 2010 the
evidence shows the profitability
of operating on such schemes
has deteriorated significantly.
Police schemes throughout
the country have insidiously
introduced more value by
stealth, such as, free storage,
Section 165’s and crime based
work being carried out for free.
It’s not just Police schemes
that have eroded the recovery
industry, it wouldn’t be fair to
single them out, Highways
England also employ the same
sort of tactics by proxy through
their management agent
and I will come to them later,
not to mention the motoring
organisations, and us lot, the
recovery industry itself.
One police representative on the
news reel admitted that recovery
scheme de-volution presented a
business opportunity for police.
It transpired that some constabularies looked to off load the
administration of the scheme
to a managing partner almost
immediately. This arrangement
has now become ominous in
the recovery industry, it makes
recovery operators hop up and
down and lose their temper, its
called a ‘managed scheme’.
According to the News reel, the
AA managed 11 schemes in the
south east initially. A few of the
recovery firms on the scheme
maintained they were losing
money - from the reports we’ve
seen, not much has changed.
recovery network was
protected financially to deliver
a professional service and
remain in place to support
the authorities, however,
as the video evidences, as
soon as 2010 the police saw
this change as a business
opportunity. The result to our
industry’s profitability has been
New contract - same problem
Following the recent contract
review for Highways England
and FMG, the contrac-tual
statutory matrix rates were
published in AVRO News and
AVRO recommend-ed for our
members to be cautious about
accepting the proposal.
We made this recommendation
after looking at the facts; we
More recently, AVRO have
took into account the costs of
still been communicating with
running a recovery organisation
Highways England as part of our and tried to justify how the
review of the statutory scheme
schedule of rates being offered
with the Home Office, but it is
were enough to subsidise a
apparent they are continuing
business model to support such
to ignore our message and the
operations. We concluded: They
historic lessons, such as the
were not.
video from 2010. They appear
to be content with the reduced
In our article, AVRO concluded
The News reel reported that
infrastructure of a select few to
that The HE/FMG scheme
Thames Valley Police elected
support them in each area. We
acted against the spirit of
to do ‘the right thing’ and
hope to continue our influence
the legislation and was a
work directly with recovery
and suc-ceed in bringing about
monopolised and morally
operators as they said they
in changing the law, as we did in reprehensible contract. The
were made aware that the
explanatory memorandum to the
motoring organisations, at that
2008 statutory fee legislation
time, namely The AA and RAC, All too often, whether it’s HE/
clearly states:
were eroding the living of the
FMG or the Police/AA, they rely
recovery industry where, if the
on being supported by a select
“7.5 Ministers take the view
trend continued, eventually all
few operators in a given area, it that the charges should not be
re-covery operations would
suits their administration driven punitive or an income generator
be administered through
busi-ness model. AVRO have
for the Police but should be
management schemes
argued this model is flawed
set at such a level as to make
(which the industry has
because if (or when) another
removal op-erations viable.”
always maintained is bad for
large operator fails (as we
competition and the end user
experience almost every year
“7.6 The new higher charges
and is arguably more likely now are necessary because
since Covid-19) then the skills,
otherwise it is likely to be-come
As evidence from this phase
knowledge, experience and
uneconomic for contractors to
of erosion of our industry, the
kit disappear with them. It is
continue these operations. This
report reveals that the county of unsustainable for unsuccessful
is especially so if there were any
Kent initially ‘lost’ 86 recovery
operators to retain the skills and increase in the numbers who
operators from the support
kit so it is inevitable that gaps
insisted that they would pay only
network alone, the management in the professional recovery
the statutory charges, whatever
scheme utilised only a select
network are appearing. We
the actual cost incurred.”
also maintain that leaving the
network thin means greater
“7.7 If contractors decided to
We all know what happened
waiting times; A prime example stop work for the police, this
nationwide, after that, it
of this is the constant reported
would have a detri-mental effect
definitely wasn’t a ‘happily
delays, its the tax payer
on the police’s ability to enforce
ever after’ story, our industry
motorists who suf-fer the most,
the law, remove obstructions
has been in constant decline
in traffic jams in East London for and potential dangers, prevent
since. The recovery network is
5 hours, waiting for the selected theft of the vehicles, their being
continuously being eroded so
op-erator to arrive from West
used for crime or be-coming a
there is less competition with the London, stuck in the traffic jam
focus for crime or environmental
skill, knowledge, experience and created by the incident. We
degradation or being driven in a
kit to support the authorities.
are aware of the local Police
dan-gerous condition.”
The ‘lost’ recovery oper-ators
asking local operators to clear
won’t be coming back.
the roads, even though they are Let’s be honest, most recovery
not contracted to do so. For free operators who fed back to
The irony is painful. in 2008
of course, in the interests of the AVRO appreciated our points
the legislation was changed
and even applauded them,
to ensure the breakdown
but most, if not all recovery


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