Raod charging plan condemned by disaster recovery experts

by Scott Douglas

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

FFDR, Scotland’s biggest insurance damage repair specialist, has condemned as “madness” the decision to proceed with road tolls charging in Edinburgh.

The company believes it operates the largest fleet of vehicles which travel into Edinburgh on a daily basis.

It is not unusual for the firm – which recently announced that it now clocks up a million miles of roads each year – to have up to 40 FFDR vehicles leaving its Fife base each morning to cross the Forth Road Bridge and head into various parts of the capital.  But very often FFDR staff, in particular, its team of surveyors can travel into Edinburgh anything up to three or four times in a day visiting customers’ homes.

Sole Director Ronnie Klos said the £2 charge on top of bridge tolls and ever-rising cost of fuel, servicing and road tax was a major concern.

He added: “There is no doubt that road tolls will have huge cost implications for our business, and businesses like ours.  It is a really worrying situation when you consider that we have up to 40 vehicles travelling into Edinburgh each day, but that doesn’t include the several trips a days myself and my surveyors will do.

“If small companies cannot be allowed to go about their business in a reasonable way in Edinburgh, there is the very distinct possibility that they will turn their back on the capital.   In the past, Edinburgh was always the top of the list when we pitched to an insurance company to provide a contract to cover a particular area.  If road charging came in, I would very seriously consider putting Edinburgh at bottom of the list and instead look to areas such as Falkirk and Grangemouth.

“If other businesses look to do that same, that will have a major effect on the city, as it will mean millions lost in the local economy through people not using local shops and services.  Those pushing for road charging tend to think only about the impact of a vehicle coming into Edinburgh, they don’t consider that the driver of that vehicle will bring further benefits such as spending money in local shops for their lunch or visiting petrol stations in the area.

“That’s why any decision to proceed with road charging would be madness.”

FFDR, Scotland’s small business of the year, operates a fleet of 55 vehicles from its base in Lochgelly, Fife, which provide an emergency service in salvaging fire or flood damaged homes and businesses on behalf of the insurance industry.

The company has seen its business in the capital increase by 25 per cent in the last 12 months – now easily 50 per cent of its business is centred in Edinburgh.  The firm recently opened a new office in Queensferry Road, reflecting the scale of its expansion in Edinburgh.

ENDS

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