Seven police forces in eastern England have teamed up to make abnormal load movements easier for hauliers, following criticism from companies that they were being inflexible.

Essex police said it had joined with six other forces in the region, in addition to the Metropolitan police, in an effort to coordinate the movement of abnormal loads through their counties.

The borders between the forces, which include Essex, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent, have been ‘removed’ making it easier to transport loads.

The agreement took effect from 5 February.

The police said their “7-Force agreement” would “provide clarity and confidence to hauliers”.

Last year, the Heavy Transport Association said around 5% of its members were considering abandoning abnormal load movements due to the costs and difficulties arising from the police enforcing inconsistent movement embargoes.

The RHA also complained that police forces were not taking a joined-up approach to this type of transport and were ignoring legislative guidance on moving heavy or large cargo.

As part of the new agreement, hauliers are required to adhere to the two aligned embargo times designed to prevent the movement of the biggest and slowest vehicles on the strategic road network during peak periods.

Hauliers will be prevented from moving abnormal loads between 7-9am and between 4-6pm, Monday to Friday.

There is no change to restrictions at the weekends and the Metropolitan Police district’s arrangements will not change.

Essex Police’s Sergeant Jason Dearsley, the current chair of the abnormal load officers group, said: “For most hauliers we hope this change provides them with a clearly defined system, making route planning in the eastern region easier by increasing in some forces the hours that abnormal loads can be moved.

“We all remain committed to working closely with the haulage organisations to provide clarity, to ensure that abnormal load movements will occur with minimum disruption to their business and with the utmost regard to the safety of all our road users.

“This partnership agreement is a great representation of what we can do to work together to strike a balance between keeping the economy moving whilst remaining focussed on road safety.”