Welcome to Power Players, the list of the most influential people in road transport. It is entirely subjective and based on the opinions of the Motortransport.co.uk editorial team rather than any objective criteria so feel free to let us know what you think @Motor_Transport.

This year’s Power Players has a different feel from last year, when senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell topped the rankings. Bell is stepping down in 2017 and her successor has yet to be announced.

While policy makers undoubtedly have a huge influence over the industry we never forget that it is the people running the trucks and sheds who keep Britain moving. No matter what 2017 throws at them, they will continue to set a great example of what it takes to be a Power Player.

Power Players


1) David Davis

Title: secretary of state for exiting the European Union

Like it on not, the deal the Department for Exiting the European Union negotiates with our estranged cousins in Brussels will shape the economic and social fabric of the country in the short, medium and long-term. From the availability of Eastern European labour for the workforces of operators up and down the UK to access to the single market for hauliers specialising in import and export business, Davis will leave a long lasting legacy in the road transport industry by his actions in 2017 once Article 50 is evoked.

The list of the policy work required to support the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union and to establish the future relationship between the EU and the UK for Davis’ department is unimaginably vast. For road transport alone Brexit will have a direct or indirect effect on drivers’ hours rules, tachographs, working time, Driver CPC, whole vehicle type approval, weights and dimensions, financial standing for O-licences, the transport of dangerous goods, road charging and the absence of any UK legislation to govern cabotage.

The potential for Davis to impact the lives of everyone involved in road transport is huge, and for that reason he is our number one choice.


2) Sadiq Khan

Title: mayor of London

While there is certainly more to UK haulage than what happens in London, with one policy statement Khan has shaped the market for rigid trucks throughout the UK for the next ten years. Khan wants to ban certain trucks from London, namely those that have large blindspots as part of a star-based system. That means an emphasis on low-entry cabs. Those achieving zero stars in a five star rating system will be banned from 2020 (estimated at 18% of all vehicles entering London right now), while those achieving three or fewer will be banned from 2024.

The knock-on effect for the capital will be huge, with Mercedes-Benz Econics and remodelled Dennis Eagle variants becoming much more common. It means that the residual value of anyn ew vehicle not up to scratch in the time-table is immediately diminished. It could mean that any vehicle coming into London from outside the UK isn’t fit for purpose, and either the truck will have to change or the load be swapped over before entering the boundaries governed by TfL.

Finally, with an increasing government focus on regionalism, there is a chance that other cities – granted more autonomy – could follow. Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham could easily like what they see. And like it or not Khan will change the trucks that you buy.


3) Gareth Llewellyn

Title: chief executive, DVSA

Llewellyn was appointed chief executive of the road safety and standards body back in April 2016 ending a short period of uncertainty following the retirement of Alastair Peoples and Paul Satoor holding the position of acting chief executive until a successor was found.

As ever with any head of an executive agency the need for change is strong, and the to-do list is long. On his agenda will be cutting waiting times for HGV driving tests; the continued roll-out of next-generation testing and the shift of annual tests from non-DVSA sites; targeting non-compliant operators to achieve a higher prohibition rate and improve the take-up of digital services.

Early in 2017 the DVSA launch its earned recognition scheme which will reward operators with fewer compliance checks in return for access to their compliance data, which will help the agency focus its resources on the seriously and serially non-compliant. In theory it should focus DVSA resources better, use roadside staff more effectively and treat compliant operators in a different way.

It’s a tall order that will fundamentally change enforcement in the industry.

John Hayes

John Hayes MP

4) John Hayes, MP

Title: Minister of State at the Department of Transport

In the game of musical chairs that the DfT uses to select a minister for freight Hayes was the most recent man to fill the vacancy when the music stopped. He says he “appreciates and values the significance of haulage”. He’s encouraged the industry to have radical thinking when it comes to building its status as a valuable part of the economy, and he says he understands the impact that Brexit could have on access to Eastern European labour.

He has in his power the chance to end any concerns the industry may have about the impending end of the longer semi-trailer trial. He can rubber stamp higher speed limits for HGVs on single and dual-carriageways in England and Wales (which are currently a year into a three year review) and is responsible for the running of Highways England. Most importantly though, he is the voice of road transport and logistics in the corridors of power in Whitehall.

As ever, Hayes will be victim to the game of musical chairs in filling this post. His predecessor Andrew Jones took on freight as a brief between May 2015 and September 2016 – and he replaced Claire Perry, who was only in the role for six months up until the general election. The power doesn’t reside in the individuals, but in the office.

richard bunrtt

5) Richard Burnett

Title: Chief executive, RHA

As much as this will pain his peers at the other association down in Tunbridge Wells – Burnett steers the helm at a newly energised RHA that is making waves in all corners of the industry.

Burnett is the face of a backroom media campaign to bring the association up to a visibility level akin to the CBI or (dare we say it) the SMMT. The skills shortage; Brexit; fuel prices; migrant camps in Calais; striking French lorry drivers – the RHA has a view on it, and it gets its views across the national media. This has been particularly effective with the blue top and red top press, looking at driver safety concerns in northern France – or on Sky News when things get difficult around the Channel crossings. Equally, when London’s direct vision standard was announced the RHA was quoted by the BBC as saying the cost of retrospectively fitting existing cabs with compliant mirrors to reduce blindspots would be "phenomenal".

For some lesser association heads this would be enough, but not Burnett. He’s also set to pursue an entirely different challenge in 2017: the RHA will be the representative body on behalf of UK hauliers bringing collective proceedings to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 after five major truck manufacturers were issued a €2.9bn fine by the EC for co-ordinated truck pricing. It is impossible to predict how wide-reaching this action will be, or what it will result in for operators, but Burnett insists it is the right thing to do for members.

Paul Day Turners

6) Paul Day

Title: MD, Turners (Soham)

Running one of the most highly regarded operators in the country normally isn’t enough to get on this list, but reshaping and entire sector of the road haulage business? Guaranteed a place.

In 2016 Day did just that. On 13 January 2016 Turners bought the £25m-a-year container haulier Macintyre Transport for an undisclosed sum. Turners had been building a small but not inconsiderable interest in the container sector but its new year purchase took its interests to another level, expanding it to a 400 strong fleet running out of Felixstow, Tilbury, London Gateway and Southampton.

Day, however, would turn the container haulage market on its head in September with its purchase of Goldstar Transport. This would add another 350 vehicles to its container haulage fleet, and a business that did £89m of turnover in its most recent financial year. While it is not straightforward to figure out exactly the size of Turners’ container interests, an educated guess makes it the number two in the market, demoting players such as Pentalver and Wincanton.

Day has every chance in 2017 to reshape the container haulage market. Not every operator can say that about the sector they operate in.

Dwain McDonald DPD CEO 2015

7) Dwain McDonald

Title: chief executive, Dpdgroup

DPD had top console itself with just the three MT Awards last summer, a major comedown from the five it picked up in 2015! It’s easy to joke about that level of success, but no operator has even come close in the last few years to achieving such sustained growth and industry-leading levels of achievements. While home delivery has changed retail in the UK beyond recognition, DPD has changed home delivery in logistics – setting standards its rivals only aspire to.

McDonald set DPD a target of having £2.3bn turnover in the UK by 2025 – all through organic growth with no acquisitions. While saying it isn’t achieving it, it wouldn’t be outside of the DPD growth curve over the past decade – which saw it hit £948.9m turnover in January 2016.

It is again leading the technological innovation that could deliver such ambitious targets. Its Precise service, which allows customers to select their own hour delivery slot, was launched in July in conjunction with online fashion retailer Asos - which follows in the footsteps of its Predict software platform, which was the first home delivery service to whittle delivery slots down to an hour.

Ray Ashworth. Managing Director DAF Trucks

8) Ray Ashworth

Title: MD, Daf

In the first nine months of the year Daf has held 30.7% market share for new truck registrations. It still continues to be the market leader by some considerable margin, some 13.9 percentage points above second place Scania (that admittedly doesn’t have the range in the lower end of the weight spectrum that Daf does) and its registered a staggering 24% more units compared to the first nine months of 2015. It is Daf that dictates the price of three in ever ten new trucks sold in the UK.

You don’t achieve that performance without a serious degree of consistency. Over the past 21 years Daf’s various guises of trucks have won MT’s Fleet Truck of the Year some 12 times, and the XF did it again over the summer. And Daf has topped the UK market share for every one of those 21 years too.

Yes the fines for cartel activity have taken the shine off some of the achievements of all the major manufacturers, but trucks still need to be built and sold – and operators are still in the market to buy. There is no reason to think that Daf, and Ashworth, will continue to lead that activity in 2017.

Adrian Colman52690

9) Adrian Colman

Title: CEO, Wincanton

A few years ago the thought of putting Wincanton on a Power Players list would have been met with a small degree of shock. The largest British-owned operator has had its troubles – and as recent as 2011 it had debts of £151.8m – after an acquisition spree and a short-lived investment in business in Europe. Colman’s predecessor Eric Born (who left in July 2015) helped steady the ship, but left Colman with a drop in profitability and problems in its Pullman Fleet Services business.

In his short tenure Colman has lead somewhat of a resurgence at Wincanton. He led an improved profit contribution at Pullman, according to its most recent set of half-year results. He’s expanded the scope of the business signed an eight-year deal to deliver ready-mixed concrete for Hanson and investing capital in a 75 strong concrete mixer fleet, and signed deals such as a fulfilment centre for Majestic Wines’ online retail operations. He’s even found an upside in the collapse of Hanjin Shipping in its container division – providing off-quay storage.

After a few years fixing the roof, Wincanton has come back fighting.

BeverleyBell squarecrop

10) The next senior traffic commissioner

Last year the current senior traffic commissioner, and TC for the north-west of England, Beverley Bell (pictured left) topped our list. However Bell is set to step down in the coming months, and the DfT is yet to decide who the replacement will be. Whomever is appointed will not just have big shoes to fill in replacing Bell herself, given her contribution to the industry, but will also lead the team that decides which operator can do business and how much they have to pay to trade.

In her final senior traffic commissioners’ foreword to the annual TC’s report Bell warned that the OTC cannot offer a better service without fee reform and law reform and that “the slow process of legislative change does not sit easily with the fast pace of 21st century transport”. She has also questioned if the one-size-fits-all O-licence fee is still appropriate, given the current composition and distribution of the UK vehicle parc, and if the size and profitability of the very largest operators means that O-licence fees are still set at the right level.

The next senior traffic commissioner has a serious challenge on their hands in exacting reform in the OTC, which will have lasting ramifications for every operator in the country.