In a recent issue (2 April), H&H reported how the UK body responsible for enforcing transport regulations, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) had banned anyone with a full-time job from driving their HGV (over 7.5tonne) lorry at weekends by strictly interpreting a European law.
Our aim is to persuade the EU to apply a derogation (exception) to this law for non-professional horsebox drivers.
Mary said: “‘I do think a lot of people don’t understand the rules and how they affect them, so this campaign — even just to raise awareness — is very important.”
Wider support for the campaign is gathering from MPs across the country, including Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, Peter Luff, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire, Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet and Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West.
Shadow secretary of state for transport Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) has also expressed her strong support and that of the Conservative Party.
“Obviously safety is paramount, and I believe there needs to be sufficient rules in place to safeguard our roadusers,” she wrote. “However, I also believe a more common sense solution must be available.”
Ms Villiers added: “My party will urge the government to rethink this decision and adopt a reasonable approach to this issue.”
British Driving Society chairman John Parker is pushing hard for an exemption to the ruling for non-professional riders and carriage drivers since the majority of his members drive HGVs and are affected.
Last week, Mr Parker met Welsh shadow farming minister AM Brynle Williams, who has expressed his full support.
Also last week, Jim Fitzpatrick, minister for the horse, personally agreed to write to the Department of Transport to highlight the issue on our behalf.
H&H reader Denis Godfrey set up a Facebook group — “Horsebox drivers against VOSA” — on 10 July to “stop VOSA from making our life more difficult” and to urge people to sign the petition. It already has more than 500 members.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (30 July, ’09)